Plans to roll out 5G technology in the UK have taken a leap forward after the government announced the winners of a £25m competition.
Six projects led by SMEs, universities and local authorities will be receiving between £2m and £5m in government grants to set up 5G testbeds across the UK.
The projects will test 5G technology across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve healthcare in the home, increasing manufacturing productivity and maximising the future benefits of self-driving cars.
The grants are part of a £1bn commitment through the government’s Digital Strategy to make the UK a world leader in 5G.
“One year on from the Digital Strategy, we are delivering on our commitments to create a Britain fit for the future, with a thriving digital economy that works for everyone,” said Margot James, minister of state for digital and the creative industries.
“The ground-breaking projects announced today will help to unlock 5G and ensure the benefits of this new technology are felt across the economy and wider society.”
Professor Rahim Tafazolli, founder and director of 5GIC and leader of 5GUK Networks, added: “The 5G Innovation Centre is extremely pleased and proud to have been able to play a leading part in in supporting the DCMS UK 5G testbeds and trials programme.
“5G represents a fundamental transformation of the role that mobile technology plays in society, delivering rich new services in sectors such as finance, transport, retail and health.
“It will drive trillions of dollars of additional activity through the world digital economy and the DCMS programme will ensure that the UK stays at the forefront of this exciting global race.”
Liverpool’s Sensor City is leading one of six projects to receive a share of the £25m pot. The global innovation hub has been awarded a £3.5m grant to investigate the opportunities of 5G community Wi-Fi in health and social care.
Funded for one year in the first instance, the project will see high value technologies including low-cost open source 5G networks, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and IoT deployed across deprived communities in the Liverpool City Region test bed.
The consortium will use this technology to reduce the digital divide, while measuring the impact on patient monitoring and support, management of loneliness in older adults, aid to independents living in the home and the facilitation of communication between hospitals and the community.
“Sensor City is proud to lead on what is set to be a truly groundbreaking project with a consortium of like-minded partners,” said CEO Alison Mitchell.
“The government’s 5G strategy for the UK presents a fantastic opportunity to transform the lives of many, especially through health and social care, so I think I speak for all partners when I say we’re excited to see this work unfold over the next five years.”