UK: £65m package for 5G trials

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Rural areas in the UK will benefit from a series of government-funded trials to help them seize the potential of modern technology, the Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced.

Nine projects across the country will receive a share of £35 million (€41.9m) from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s rural and industrial 5G competitions, and a new £30 million open competition – 5G Create – will look at how 5G can create new opportunities in industries including film, TV, video games, logistics and tourism.

Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire will see cutting-edge apps transform the visitor experience, with Robin Hood telling the history of the medieval forest via virtual and augmented reality on 5G networks. New robotic environmental management will also be tested alongside live monitoring of the health of Sherwood Forest to preserve the site for future generations.

Funding will also go to 5G trials in air and sea search and rescue in Dorset to help save lives using terrestrial and satellite connectivity. This project will also trial 5G connectivity for remote farms to track crop growth, monitor livestock and reduce water pollution using 5G.

These new trials will help spread the benefits of technology across the country and allow the UK to grasp an early advantage by using the new applications 5G networks can enable.

This forms part of the UK’s £200 million investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to explore new ways that 5G can boost business growth and productivity, improve the lives of people in rural areas and maximise the productivity benefits of new technologies. The trials will also support the Government’s ambition to diversify the supply chain for digital infrastructure in the UK, a key recommendation from the Supply Chain Review.

“We’re determined to make the UK a world-leader in 5G and deliver on our promise to improve connections for people and businesses across the country,” stated Dowden. “Today we’re announcing new funding to seize the new opportunities this technology will offer us. This includes seeing how it could create new jobs in the countryside, make businesses more productive and unleash even more ideas in our cutting-edge creative industries.”

The £65 million package includes:

  • £30 million for the Rural Connected Communities (RCC) competition for seven 5G research and development projects across the UK. This includes five in England, one in Wales and one in Scotland with plans to expand into Northern Ireland. Test sites will be set up in Yorkshire, Gwent, Monmouthshire, Orkney, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, Dorset, Shropshire and Worcestershire.
  • More than £5 million of funding will be awarded to two industrial projects, led by Ford Motor Company and Zeetta Networks, to test the benefits of using 5G to boost productivity in the manufacturing sector.
  • A new £30 million open competition – 5G Create – has been launched to develop new uses for 5G in a variety of industries, including our creative sectors such as film, TV and video games. From enabling remote production to supporting the expansion of the increasingly popular world of esports, 5G has the potential to revolutionise the UK’s booming creative industries.

“The Creative Industries Council is delighted that DCMS is launching 5G Create,” declared Tim Davie, Co-Chair of the Creative Industries Council and CEO of BBC Studios. “We have been advocating a funded competition along these lines, as an exciting opportunity for UK creative companies to develop innovative products and services using this transformational technology. 5G offers innovative opportunities right across the sector from film and TV, to games, to music, fashion and advertising. We hope that start-ups and well-established companies alike will bid for the available funds.

The new 5G Create competition will open in early March and run until the end of June.


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