The UK Government has announced the winners of a GBP 25 million competition to establish UK-wide testbeds to pave the way for a future roll-out of 5G technology. The six winners, led by SMEs, universities and local authorities, will explore the benefits of 5G for rural communities, healthcare and tourism.
They will test 5G technology across a range of applications, using IoT to improve healthcare in homes, smart farming with drones, and maximising the future benefits of self-driving cars. The GBP 25 million project is part of a GBP 1 billion Digital Strategy commitment by the UK Government to accelerate deployment of next-generation digital infrastructure. Each testbed will receive government grants of between GBP 2 million and GBP 5 million, as part of a total GBP 41 million private/public sector investment to explore new 5G mobile communications technologies.
5G RuralFirst, led by Cisco and the University of Strathclyde, will deliver testbeds and trials to exploit the benefits of 5G for rural communities and industries such as agriculture, broadcasting and utilities. The 5G Smart Tourism project is led by the West of England Combined Authority and will focus on develop enhanced visual experiences for tourists using AR and VR technology at major attractions in Bristol and Bath, including the Millennium Square and the Roman Baths. The Worcestershire 5G Consortium, including Huawei, O2 and BT, will focus on ways to boost industrial productivity using robotics, AR over 5G, and big data analytics. It will also have a cyber security focus, with QinetiQ providing assurances on the ‘security by design’ of 5G and IoT technology.
The Liverpool 5G Testbed, led by Sensor City, will see technologies such as low-cost open-source 5G networks, artificial intelligence, VR and IoT deployed across deprived communities in the Liverpool City Region, with the aim of reducing the digital divide, improve patient monitoring and support, manage loneliness in older adults, support independent living in the home, facilitate communications between the community and hospitals. The AutoAir Testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) is led by Airspan Communications and will develop CAVs at the vehicle proving ground in Millbrook. The final winner is the 5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT) which will test the use of 5G technology across a range of rural applications, such as smart agriculture, tourism, and connecting poorly-served communities