The government has unveiled plans to create a ‘5G city’ as part of a multimillion-pound trial of new high speed connectivity.
The Urban Connected Communities Project will involve developing a large-scale testbed for wireless 5G infrastructure across an entire city.
The scheme will include testing how new technology can make urban communities inherently safer, greener, more efficient and more attractive places to live.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is now inviting expressions of interest from local or combined authorities with a coverage area of approximately 500,000 people to be the public sector partner and lead the delivery of the project.
Interest from large cities below 500,000 population but with very strong, clear digital leadership and vision will be considered.
“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,” said minister for digital Margot James.
“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.”
It is expected that the winning bid will be trialling a variety of initiatives, which could include using sensors and real-time monitoring and management of traffic and public transport to make traffic jams and disjointed journeys a thing of the past.
As well as enhancing connectivity for residents and businesses, the urban testbed will also trial 5G applications across multiple sectors including public services, industry, transport, healthcare, media and entertainment, and allow different deployment models to be explored.
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.
Funding for the project will come from the £200m assigned so far to develop 5G technologies as part of over £1bn investment in next-generation digital infrastructure, including through the £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).
Following a competitive process, the government expects to select a location in summer 2018.