Isle of Wight bids to become one of UK’s first 5G testbeds

By Sarah Wray 17 January 2018

5G test bed

The Isle of Wight Council has applied for a government grant to install a 5G testbed on the island and become one of a handful of testbed locations across the UK.

New council papers on growth and regeneration note that: “An island bid to become a testbed for 5G mobile communications has been submitted in December 2017 and a bid for the UK government Local Full Fibre programme is being prepared for the end of January 2018 deadline.”

The bid follows recommendations from the island’s Infrastructure Task Force to improve infrastructure, public transport and mainland connectivity.

The Council held a conference in November, which saw more than 200 delegates providing input to shape the future digital strategy of the Isle of Wight and the wider Solent region, including the 5G bid.

To find out more about 5G testbeds, read our guide: What Are 5G Testbeds?

5G for health and social care

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson told “Following the successful digital conference held in November 2017, the council has been supporting a consortium of organisations on the Isle of Wight to bid for funding from the government’s 5G testbed programme.”

They added: “If selected, the trials can support testing of a wide range of industry applications but will initially focus on how 5G services can enable better health and social care in a population of higher than average age. These services could include high quality, yet cost-saving services like video consultancy in remote locations and contribute to telehealth initiatives, where people can be treated in their own homes.”

An Isle of Wight digital preparedness roadmap and strategy is also scheduled to be commissioned in January 2018, for completion and launch in April 2018.

Government funding

In October, the UK government launched the “5G Testbeds and Trials” competition, offering grants of up to £5 million to new 5G test locations across the UK. The initiative is part of the government’s £740 million National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) which aims to support the next generation of digital infrastructure, including 5G and full fibre broadband.

In November it also launched a £190 million Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Challenge Fund to demonstrate approaches that attract and support private investment and make sustainable commercial deployments viable.

Other testbeds

While the Isle of Wight may end up having one of the UK’s first 5G testbeds, there are a few other locations that have already been approved for one and they all have their own areas of focus. These include Tyne and Wear, which will use the testbed to focus on energy, transport and healthcare.

Brighton meanwhile will use a testbed to help small businesses develop products and services that could benefit from 5G, the Midlands will look into commercial applications around cyber security, and Basingstoke will focus on a 5G step-out facility for start-ups to test apps.

Useful read: What Is the 5G Innovation Network

Image credit : Shutterstock

About Sarah Wray

Technical Writer at

Sarah Wray is a technical writer with over 10 years' experience writing about technology, including telecoms, smart cities, data, IoT, aerospace, and more.

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