Andy Street hails 5G testbed win as ‘game-changing’
The West Midlands region is to become home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed.
The trial of new high speed connectivity will “pave the way” for the future rollout of 5G across the UK, the government said.
The Urban Connected Communities Project will develop a large-scale, 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
Up to £50 million is currently available for the project, subject to further development and approval of the business plan.
This includes £25 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and a further £25 million match funding from regional partners. An additional £25 million may be made available at a later stage.
“This announcement is game-changing for the West Midlands economy,” said West Midlands mayor Andy Street.
“This will be the backbone of our future economy and society.”He added: “The potential of this technology is endless – and we will enjoy the benefits first.
“From monitoring the health of babies and the elderly, to the way out people are linked to the economy of the future, the way companies do business, the way we deliver public services, the experience of travellers on public transport and the way we deliver City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games – everything can be made better thanks to the power of this technology.”
Following its selection through open competition, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will now work with the 5G Testbeds and Trials Team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and industry partners on preparing the formal business case for approval, with the first of a series of projects expected to go live early next year.
“5G has the potential to dramatically transform the way we go about our daily lives, and we want the citizens of the UK to be amongst the first to experience all the opportunities and benefits this new technology will bring,” said minister for digital Margot James.
“The West Midlands Testbed, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will be instrumental in helping us realise this ambition.”