UK government announces £30 million of 5G test projects

3 August 2020

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The UK government has announced the funding of a new wave of 5G projects as part of its wider 5G Testbeds and Trials initiative.

New 5G test projects are set to commence across the country, with the goal of demonstrating what the next generation mobile network will be able to offer to UK industry. Each project will take a slice of £30 million made available through the 5G Create competition.

Vivacity, Weaver Labs and Transport for Greater Manchester plan to use AI-controlled traffic lights to reduce pollution and congestion in the city. In Preston, a project involving BAE Systems, Advanced Manufacturing Catapult and IBM will aim to utilise 5G to deliver the RAF’s Tempest fighter jet at half its current cost.

In Liverpool, a group of local healthcare bodies plan to establish a private 5G network to provide remote NHS video consultations to low-income families. And at Nissan’s Sunderland factory, a trial will use 5G to drive autonomous trucks in a bid to boost productivity.

At the opposite end of the country, the Brighton Dome will be testing remote music festivals broadcast over 5G. BT Sport, meanwhile, will test to see how 5G in conjunction with VR could potentially transform the experience of live sports in East Anglia.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: “We are helping innovative thinkers across Britain use their creativity to harness the power of 5G and boost economic productivity, cut pollution and congestion, and develop the next generation of entertainment. The new funding we are announcing today will help us pioneer new ways to seize the opportunities of 5G and bring tangible benefits for consumers and businesses across the country.”

READ MORE: What are 5G Testbeds?

Ongoing trials

As part of its ongoing £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials (5GTT) programme, the UK government has funded 24 5G testbeds across the UK. This latest £30 million package is made up of £16.4 million from the government match-funded by large tech and telecoms companies, as well as SMEs and local authorities.

Samsung is one of the more notable companies involved in the latest round of 5G tests, providing equipment for BT’s 5G Edge-XR project. This marks the first time that the South Korean tech giant will bee involved in a UK-based 5GTT project.

The UK government’s ongoing 5G Testbeds and Trials programme has at its core a manifesto to provide 5G coverage for the majority of the UK by 2027. That commitment has come under considerable pressure of late with the announcement that UK mobile networks will be banned from buying Huawei 5G equipment from 2021. Huawei’s 5G kit will be completely removed from the country’s mobile networks by 2027 amidst ongoing political pressure from the US.

One suspects that it will take a lot more funding and many more projects such as these, as well as fresh input from Huawei’s network infrastructure rivals, to ensure that the UK hits its 5G targets. The government says that more new 5G projects will be announced in the autumn.

Technical Writer at 5G.co.uk

Jon has nine years experience of writing and editing copy for leading publications, as well as attending technology shows and events and conducting interviews. Currently working with 5G.co.uk, TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, T3, Digital Spy, What Mobile, Pocket Gamer, and The Gadget Show.

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