Govt to launch city-wide test bed for 5G internet infrastructure

The UK government has launched the Urban Connected Communities project, which will develop a large-scale, city-wide test bed for 5G internet infrastructure.

UK govt has launched the Urban Connected Communities project, which will develop a large-scale, city-wide test bed for 5G internet infrastructure – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The Urban Connected Communities project forms part of the UK government’s industrial strategy and is the latest stage in a programme which is trialling 5G internet technology.

The project seeks to establish best practices for the wide-scale digitisation of cities throughout the country.

The department for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) is now seeking expressions of interest from regions or cities with a population of 500,000, and which have demonstrated strong, clear digital leadership and vision, to lead the delivery of the project as its public-sector partner.

What does the project aim to test?

As well as testing the functionality of the latest 5G technology, the project will explore a variety of applications, and test how viably these could make communities safer, greener and more efficient. These might include:

  • Real-time traffic monitoring and management through the use of sensors;
  • High-speed video consultation technology for doctors, facilitating remote treatment for patients who are unable to travel; and
  • Augmented and virtual reality technologies for use in tourist venues.

Each of these technologies will rely on the high-capacity capabilities of 5G internet technologies which will be fundamental to the future of smart cities. In recognition of this, the Urban Connected Communities project will receive £200m (€228.5m) from a UK government fund as part of a broader £1bn investment in next-generation digital infrastructure.

Margot James, the minister of State for DCMS, said that the project would be vital to demonstrating the business case for investing in 5G technology, which could allow the UK to become a world leader in delivering smart cities.

James said: “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.

“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.”

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