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Gov Commits £40m to Trial New UK 5G and Wireless Broadband Tech

Thursday, Aug 3rd, 2023 (8:18 am) - Score 1,016
5G fast network logo. Speed internet 5g concept. wifi bars symbol of speed 5g network

The UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has opened a new £40 million fund to help local and regional authorities to test and adopt 5G and other advanced wireless network technologies, which could be used to “pioneer digital connectivity for residents and business“.

The new 5G Innovation Regions (5GIRs) fund, which will remain open for applications from UK local authorities until 10th September 2023, is said to form part of the Government’s wider programme to drive 5G adoption and commercial investment by aggregating and demonstrating demand. DSIT said they expect to make available grant funding of up to a maximum of £3.8m to each successful project (about ten 5GIR projects are anticipated).

Just to be clear, the applications document for this fund is designed to encourage the use of more than just 5G based wireless network technologies, with 4G/LTE, WiFi, satellite, Low-Power Wide Area Networks, IoT networks, fixed-wireless access (FWA) and other existing technologies such as Extended Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning algorithms or digital twins also getting mentioned.

Applications of the technology could include connecting sensors that analyse and help to improve air quality by better managing traffic, and deploying 5G-enabled drones that can scan fields and crops, collecting data on weather and environmental conditions. Some previous research has claimed widespread adoption of 5G could result in productivity benefits of £159bn by 2035, but we always take such forecasts with a pinch of salt.

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said:

“Greater adoption of 5G-powered technologies will help deliver more efficient public services, new opportunities for residents and businesses, and a boost for economic growth – and this new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.

5G Innovation Regions will be uniquely positioned to benefit from breaking down barriers which hinder the rollout of such technologies at a local level and this initiative offers every community the chance to gain these opportunities.

Improving connectivity through a world-class digital infrastructure is one of the core components of the government’s plans to level up every community in the UK and I encourage local areas to apply and to be ambitious in their vision for reaping the rewards of 5G.”

Broadly speaking, the new fund appears designed to build on the learnings of the previous 5G Testbeds and Trials (5GTT) Programme. The winning projects are expected to be announced from around November 2023 and will then run until 31st March 2025. But from the description this appears to be more targeted at bespoke device connectivity solutions, rather than on delivering broadband services to consumers and businesses. Time will tell.

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
6 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Richard Branston says:

    instead of investing £40m to “pioneer” digital connectivity the money would be better spent re-training planner officers to prevent them from refusing badly needed new / upgraded masts on completely spurious aesthetic grounds.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Better rules rather than re-training would help there.

    2. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Are planning officers declining them, councillors or both?

      I’ve seen a fair few cases where planning officers approved and councillors declined. Short of taking councillors out of the loop, which I actually agree with as politics shouldn’t be obstructing development, retraining planning officers isn’t going to help.

      Locally councillors campaigned against some masts, planning approved them, councillors declined. They were appealed and councillor declines overturned.

      If they make invalid decisions they can be overturned as a matter of law. That’s what the appeal system is for. Streamlining that would be a plan.

    3. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      I think thats more down to corruption than training dude.

  2. Avatar photo SnabbaCash says:

    I wonder who is going to apply for these funds?
    A lovely 5G country estate, a 5G private jet, 5G luxury yacht, a 5G Bugatti and 5G diamond encrusted watch 🙂

  3. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    £40m is loose change, it isn’t going to pioneer anything.

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