Plans to create a ‘5G city’ hits trial stage

Digital Minister Margot James has revealed that the government will create a ‘5G city’ in a multi million pound trial to pave the way for a future rollout of 5G across the UK.

The Urban Connected Communities Project, labelled as the next step in the government’s 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, will develop a large-scale, citywide testbed for wireless 5G infrastructure and will test how new technology can make urban communities inherently safer, greener, more efficient and more attractive places to live.

The project will specifically target ‘pinch-points’ of poor connectivity in cities, including areas of high demand such as mainline stations or city centres where heavy usage rather than a lack of signal leads to not-spots.

A number of suggested initiatives have been aired, including health services using real-time video consultation and remote treatment for those less able to travel, the widespread use of sensors and real-time monitoring for traffic and public transport and revolutionising the way visitors experience tourist venues through the use of augmented and virtual reality technologies.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is now seeking expressions of interest from local or combined authorities with a coverage area in the region of 500,000 people to be the public sector partner and lead the delivery of the project.

James said: “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. 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.”

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