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Government Hand £65m to New UK 5G Mobile Broadband Trials

Thursday, Feb 20th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 3,692
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The UK Government has today announced £65m in public funding to help conduct “innovative” new R&D trials of 5G style applications and specific wireless broadband connectivity solutions, which among other things includes £30m for nine projects under the Rural Connected Communities (RCC) programme.

We should point out that all of this forms part of the £200m 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, which began in 2018 with a smaller selection of pilots but has since branched out. All of this pre-dates the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his £5bn pledge to have “Gigabit broadband sprouting in every home” by the end of 2025 (here); the 2025 plan is a separate programme, but all can share what they learn.

NOTE: The PM’s plan may be separate, but he has hinted that 5G could play a role in achieving the gigabit coverage goal (we await the final framework for details).

On top of the RCC, today’s announcement also includes a new £30m open competition – 5G Create – that will look at how 5G can create “new opportunities in industries including film, TV, video games, logistics and tourism” (competition for this will open in early March and run until the end of June 2020). As such we’ll have to wait until H2-2020 to know who secured funding under that.

The final £5m has then been awarded to two industrial projects, led by Ford Motor Company and Zeetta Networks, to test the benefits of using 5G to boost productivity in the manufacturing sector.

According to the RCC’s original remit, the project is intended to “promote demand for services from consumers, enterprises and the public sector in rural areas and will also explore how ”neutral host” infrastructure sharing and spectrum sharing can be used to improve the incentives to invest.”

RCC – Primary Goals

● Improving the case for investment in rural network deployment by testing new commercial and technical solutions for more efficient deployment of advanced network infrastructure, including 5G.

● Supporting the business case for 5G by building and proving demand from new use cases that incentivise investment in rural areas.

The result from bidding on the RCC and other projects were previously due to be announced by the end of last year, although the 2019 General Election ultimately got in the way of that and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is thus having to play catch-up. You can find a full list of all the pilots below the quote.

Oliver Dowden MP, UK Digital Secretary, said:

“We’re determined to make the UK a world-leader in 5G and deliver on our promise to improve connections for people and businesses across the country.

Today we’re announcing new funding to seize the new opportunities this technology will offer us.

This includes seeing how it could create new jobs in the countryside, make businesses more productive and unleash even more ideas in our cutting-edge creative industries.”

One thing to keep in mind here is that some of the following pilots may only use aspects of 5G technology rather than the full standard (i.e. arguably this could make some of them more akin to traditional Fixed Wireless Access style platforms), although at this stage there isn’t enough detail to tell. In many cases the pilots also appear to be making use of Ofcom’s new local mobile licences (here and here), which is an important development.

We should add that the 5GTT programme generally expects those organisations receiving grant funding to match that funding with an equivalent amount, although there can be exceptions and different projects (or types of business) may receive different levels of grant funding within that.

Otherwise the final list of successful applicants reflects quite a wide mix of different projects. It’s noted that “none of the winning  projects, or future projects from 5G Create, will use equipment from high risk vendors,” which pretty much rules out any kit from Huawei or ZTE.

The Winning Rural (RCC) Projects

Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY)

Government funding: £4,431,677

Project Summary

The Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY) project will support the development of future rural connectivity in the county by developing new technologies, apps and services tailored for rural areas. These will focus on tourism, mental health, coverage for emergency services and environmental management.

The project will build small mobile phone networks in areas that have no mobile coverage. It aims to understand how the public, private and community sectors can work together to reduce the cost of delivering mobile access in rural areas. The project is led by Quickline Communications, the largest wireless ISP in the country working with North Yorkshire County Council, two universities and four small businesses.

West Mercia Rural 5G

Government funding: £3,285,705

Project Summary

Operating in the rural area where the counties of Shropshire and Worcestershire meet, ‘West Mercia Rural 5G’ will explore infrastructure challenges when planning, building and operating a rural 5G network and look at how 5G can enhance services for the benefit of residents, particularly researching 5G enabled health and social care applications.

Led by Worcestershire County Council, key partners on the network side are Airband and Three who will plan, build and operate the 5G network. Local NHS organisations alongside Worcestershire County Council and Shropshire Council will work on the health and social care applications. The University of Worcester, University Centre Shrewsbury, and West Midlands Academic Health Science Network are providing their expert support across the project.

5G Connected Forest

Government funding: £4,975,948

Project Summary

Centred around the ancient Sherwood Forest, the focus of the 5G Connected Forest project will be to explore the potential for 5G applications in the preservation of forests and their environment, and in enhancing the experience of visitors to the forest and surrounding area.

From robotic environmental management and non-intrusive live monitoring of the health of a forest, to live AR and VR experiences for visitors of all ages, and inspiring public transport users; the project will also investigate business models that can enable operators to boost rural connectivity and create innovative applications with the potential for commercial development.

MONeH (Multi Operator Neutral Host)

Government funding: £2,359,762

Project Summary

The MONeH Consortium, led by Telet Research, CH4LKE Mobile and Associated Networks, aims to demonstrate how multi-operator, neutral host cellular networks based upon small cell technology can be used to provide multiple user slices, serving different customer groups within rural areas with little or no coverage. Initial deployment will be in the Chalke Valley, South West Wiltshire with two other sites in Preston Bissett, Buckinghamshire and Lucknam Park, near Bath.

Deployments will utilise unused mobile spectrum, using the new Ofcom-issued Local Access licencing procedures to offer a service that is both technically and financially robust in areas where conventional coverage solutions are not commercially viable for mobile network operators or cannot scale to cover small areas.

5G RuralDorset

Government funding: £4,335,000

Project Summary

Coastal public services – using 5G to save lives and enhance safety in coastal areas focusing on incident prevention. Using terrestrial and satellite connectivity, we aim to track critical equipment and pilot advanced search and rescue techniques.

Agri-tech – how connectivity needed by remote farms can be delivered cost-effectively. We will pilot leading-edge agricultural technologies to track crop growth, monitor livestock and reduce water pollution.

Commercial connectivity – new 5G services on the Lulworth Estate and festival site, unlocking potential social and commercial uses from tourism and education to safety.

5G innovation hub – developing Dorset Innovation Park (formerly Winfrith) to allow existing and new businesses to test and develop 5G products and services collaboratively and securely.

5G New Thinking

Government funding: £5,000,000

Project Summary

The 5G New Thinking project will look at the provision of mobile/wireless connectivity primarily using the shared spectrum and local spectrum licencing options announced by Ofcom in July 2019. Working closely with communities, the project will develop a community toolkit to allow the creation of networks that provide rural connectivity for cooperatives of consumers, local enterprise, councils and other stakeholders. The project will work to create facilities and tools for spectrum sharing and monitoring, neutral hosting, partnerships and B2B engagement models with operators. In its first stage the project will create models, strategies and use case demonstrators on the Orkney Islands network, and engage forward with community and council partners in Borderlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland and areas of rural England to help develop and ultimately roll-out 5G connectivity.

Connected Communities in the Rural Economy (CoCoRE)

Government funding: £5,000,000

The project will connect rural communities by demonstrating how 5G technology can open up new opportunities for businesses and citizens. It’s focus is centred upon the south east Wales rural region of Monmouthshire and its neighbour Blaenau Gwent. We will innovate in areas such as ‘immersive tourism’ and ‘farming security’ as key parts of the rural economy, whilst leveraging related technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and Cyber Security as part of an as part of an ‘innovation platform’. Everyone in every industry will feel the positive effects of 5G and we aim to put rural Wales at the front of the queue through our ‘Connected Communities in the Rural Economy’ project.

The Winning Industrial 5G Projects

5GEM – 5G Enabled Manufacture

Government funding: £1,942,275

Project Summary

This project will focus on the use of 5G in manufacturing to connect machines allowing real-time feedback, control, analysis and remote expert support. Two Vodafone mobile private networks will be installed in Ford Motor Company’s Dunton facility and TWI Cambridge, respectively. Ford will focus on the connectivity of welding processes, used in the manufacture of electric vehicles. TWI will support Vacuum Furnace Engineering in connecting their heat treatment equipment. ATS, TM Forum, HSSMI and Lancaster University join the consortium to work on the associated challenges such as cyber security, scale-up, standards, machine learning and developing the 5G technology for an industrial environment.


Government funding: £3,822,760

Project Summary

Zeetta, a UK technology company, has been selected to lead the £9m DCMS-funded 5G-ENCODE project at the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol.

The consortium comprises ten companies including Telefonica, Siemens, Toshiba, Solvay and Baker Hughes. Zeetta will be offering its multi-domain orchestration technology based on 5G network splicing and slicing.

The project will examine new business models for private mobile networks in the manufacturing sector. It will investigate three key industrial 5G use cases to improve productivity and effectiveness of composite design and manufacture: interactive augmented reality (AR); asset tracking across multiple sites and locations; and industrial system management.

The 5G-ENCODE project will start in February 2020 and will run until March 2022.

Funding for RCC has been profiled over three financial years, from 2019/20 to 2021/22.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

    Will this include testing the 5G feature of targeting high levels of radiation at specific users?

    1. Avatar photo blueacid says:

      Yeah totally waiting for this, it’ll be great. It’ll keep my takeaway warm.

  2. Avatar photo J Cleaver says:

    SN5 0AD is in the middle of a Not Spot do you have an update fro Braydon Wiltshire please

  3. Avatar photo Michael Oneill says:

    Hello to u all 5g wow it really nice to have fast technology but this is not as clear cut as it sounds its military and it disturbs the cells in short bursts which the cell repairs over time the cell won’t and towers that are fixed will emit cross over mirodata that will destroy cells virus that would not normally kill u will because the cell is damaged covid 19 is the same it wouldn’t kill u unless u got cell damage and it seems the government know this and want to ramp it out knowing it going to kill life from microbial to bees butter flies birds you and you family

    1. Avatar photo Amy says:

      I’m with you on this, martial law .. bill gates ID2020 . Look into what they planning ..You will discover some interesting things.

Comments are closed

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