The government is looking to position the UK at the forefront of 5G development with a new £25 million competition. ‘5G Testbeds and Trials’, part of last November’s £740 million National Investment Productivity Fund (NPIF), is urging parties from industry, the public sector, regulators, academia and organisations in overseas trade to submit proposals to test 5G’s capabilities across their sectors.
The first Phase of projects will focus on the creation of a UK ‘5G Ecosystem’ in line with the objectives and rules of the Government’s 5G Strategy – which includes economic viability and a regulatory framework. Interested parties from any of the above fields can submit proposals and compete for initial funding of £25 million to support their ideas in tech development, deployment trials and business models for 5G’s wider implementation.
Subsequent stages will focus on collaboration between the programme, industries and local areas. These will be balanced between ‘strategic’ areas which might bring most benefits to the UK, and places where practical challenges need to be overcome – such as in rural areas – or in key sectors such as road, rail and health.
Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, stressed the depth of talent that the Government is seeking. Hancock said: “It will make use of areas where the UK has a competitive advantage such as our strengths in scientific research, engineering talent, and rich ecosystem of relevant technology companies, both large and small.
“This Programme forms part of our Digital Strategy and 5G Strategy. We are working with global partners, and with the communications regulator, Ofcom, which is preparing to make spectrum available for 5G, in an appropriate and timely way.
“Crucially, we will work with industry – through a new national 5G Innovation Network – to coordinate the development of 5G services and applications in the UK within a common framework, and to create the conditions for innovation to emerge in the 5G ecosystem.”