UK begins search for 5G 'city of the future'


By Jonathan Nally
Tuesday, 03 April, 2018



UK begins search for 5G 'city of the future'

The UK government has announced an Urban Connected Communities Project that will develop a large-scale, citywide testbed for wireless 5G infrastructure.

The project is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and the next step in its 5G Testbed and Trials Programme.

The aim of the project is to test ways to make communities safer, greener, more efficient and nicer places in which to live through a trial of various ideas, such as:

  • real-time video healthcare consultations and remote treatment for those less able to travel
  • widespread use of sensors and real-time monitoring and management of traffic and public transport
  • use of augmented and virtual reality technologies for tourism
  • robotics and augmented reality to monitor manufacturing assembly lines to predict when parts need replacing or rerouting to improve productivity.
     

“This is a huge opportunity for an urban area to become the flagship of our ambitious programme to make Britain fit for the future and a world leader in 5G,” said Digital Minister Margot James.

“Trialling 5G at scale across an entire city is a chance to prove the economic benefits predicted from this new technology, test different methods of deployment and boost the connectivity of ordinary people working and living there.”

The scheme will target poor connectivity ‘pinch points’ in cities, including high-demand areas such as railway stations or city centres where heavy usage rather than a lack of signal leads to dropout spots.

Funding will come from £200 million assigned so far to develop 5G as part of more than £1bn investment in next-generation digital infrastructure, including through the £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

The project is seeking expressions of interest from local or combined authorities to be the public sector partner and lead the delivery of the project.

Such authorities should have a coverage area of around 500,000 people, although interest from large cities with smaller populations but with “very strong, clear digital leadership and vision” will also be considered.

A competitive review process will result in an expected location selection in the middle of 2018, to be followed later by initiation of a similar Rural Connected Communities Project.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/singkham

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