UK gov invests £28 million to trial innovative 5G use cases

The projects will involve the O2 Arena, Cornwall's Eden Project and Sir David Attenborough

The UK government has announced a £28 million investment in nine nationwide projects that will trial innovative uses of 5G networks. 

This will include trailing 5G-powered cargo ports, as well as improving visitor experiences at the O2 Arena, MK Dons stadium, and the Eden Project.

The O2's Project Vista will explore how the arena can provide instant, multi-angle replays using smartphones during stadium events, while the MK Stadium in Milton Keynes will trial the use of driverless taxis and smart parking management using robotics. The Eden Project in Cornwall, meanwhile, will aim to enhance visitor experience using 5G and 360-degree videos.

Commenting on the announcement, Matt Warman, the minister for Digital Infrastructure, said that 5G is “about so much more than faster mobile internet speeds”.

“We’re investing millions to help some of Britain’s brightest innovators explore the huge potential of the technology to improve and enrich our lives. The projects we’ve selected will demonstrate how the blistering speeds of 5G can put some rocket fuel in our economy and help businesses bounce back from the pandemic,” he added.

The initiative is a joint investment from the government and businesses, with DCMS providing £15.2 million to be shared across the nine projects, with the remaining £13.1 million coming from project partners.

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Five of the nine projects will also explore the potential of Open RAN, which is expected to provide operators more choice and flexibility as they roll out the UK’s 5G infrastructure. This will include testing the use of cameras, drones, mixed reality and IoT sensors to monitor construction process and track assets on the Shetland Islands in Scotland.

Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said that he is “delighted this significant UK government investment is funding such an important project”, adding that the 5G innovation trials will “help Scottish industry harness the opportunities and possibilities 5G offers”.

The nine projects announced today are part of the 5G Create competition which was set up in 2020 to explore the technical possibilities of 5G across sectors such as tourism, sport, logistics, transport, creative industries, and construction.

The government also announced a new app which will see Sir David Attenborough take to 5G for the first time to show people the wonders of the natural world with the help of augmented reality (AR).

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