A rapid rise in 5G availability is said to be powering economic growth across the North of Tyne.
With digital infrastructure now pivotal to the success of the UK, demand for data, speed and reliability is fast increasing.
Over the past 12 months, 45,000 homes have now been connected to gigabit-capable connectivity, moving the dial from 54% to 65%, with access with a similar trajectory expected to continue in urban environments over the next 3-5 years.
As 5G connectivity in the North East undergoes remarkable improvements, the region is steadily solidifying its reputation as a dynamic digital hotspot. This investment into digital is not only supporting the birth of many local startups and businesses, but it is also contributing to a better quality of life for residents.
Through its 5G Future Connectivity programme, North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is supporting the creation of jobs, business opportunities and faster implementation of 5G and future connectivity, allowing organisations in the area to be at the forefront of digital innovation.
Councillor Richard Wearmouth, lead for Clean Energy and Connectivity at North of Tyne Combined Authority, said: “Digital infrastructure is an essential cornerstone to society and our economy, contributing to the sustainable growth of the North East.
“A lack of broadband can have a huge impact on a person’s life, leading to poorer health outcomes, a lower life expectancy, increased loneliness and less access to jobs and education.
“Through a combined effort, the rollout of 5G programmes and accelerators is essential. That way, we can continue to support businesses and communities, especially in rural regions.”
To increase the provision of reliable internet across the region, NTCA is working with connectivity partners to help improve the digital skills of its residents so that no one is excluded regardless of their location or income.
The combined authority has invested £10 million to support the growth of the digital sector across the North of Tyne, pursuing an ambition of digital growth and innovation.
Before COVID-19, the North East accounted for only 1.58% of private research and development (R&D) investment in the UK. Leading academic evidence shows that early adoption of advanced digital technologies can explain inequalities in regional productivity for up to 16 years.
This highlights the need across the North of Tyne region to integrate technology innovation alongside existing sectoral strengths and emergent opportunities for growth and high-quality employment.
Ashmita Randhawa, Head of Innovation at Digital Catapult North East & Tees Valley, said: “It’s fantastic to see the investment that the North of Tyne Combined Authority is making to build this digital infrastructure within the region.
“The power of 5G lies in its application, and it will be key to see the various sectors and industries that this can help companies leapfrog in, particularly through the combination of 5G with other technologies.”
Over the next five years, NTCA Digital aims to create 1,300 new tech businesses, increase tech company revenues by £425m, and support 10,000 new tech employees entering the workforce, all underpinned by 99% of the region connected to gigabit fibre/5G infrastructure.