UK government invests $50+ million in 5G testbed and trials

The United Kingdom government stated June 12 in a press release that it is making a £40 million ($50.7 million) investment in its 5G testbeds and trials program that it said has already driven work in the healthcare, tourism, transport, and broadcasting sectors. The new investment will support similar work in the logistics and manufacturing sectors.

5gWikipedia CommonsThe funding was originally announced by UK Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright at the 5G World Conference as part of London Tech Week June 10-14.

The UK government said projects will trial ways which can help the logistics and manufacturing sectors increase their productivity and output to boost the U.K. economy. The trials could cover different manufacturing processes as well as across road, air, and sea-based freight logistics.

This latest round of investment is part of the UK's larger £200 million ($253.5 million) project to test 5G technology that’s up to 10 times faster than 4G and able to support more than a million devices per square kilometre.

"As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re making sure that Britain has a telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future," Wright said. "5G is about more than mobile phone consumers having a fast and reliable connection anywhere in the country. It’s a vital piece of technology that can be used to improve the productivity and growth of our industrial sectors. That’s why we’re excited to develop new trials in areas such as manufacturing and logistics that can really benefit from 5G."

Along with the new funding, the UK government confirmed it will consult on proposals to simplify planning processes in England to to both support the further roll-out of 4G and aid the faster introduction of 5G.

"Getting the planning system right for future 5G and today’s 4G networks is critical to ensure the UK continues to lead the world in digital connectivity," said Hamish MacLeod, director at Mobile UK. "It is right that the Government has announced it is to look at simplifying planning processes and we stand ready to work in partnership to ensure this can happen as quickly as possible to aid the continued rollout of mobile networks."

The release said the new investment is part of the government's long-term strategy for meeting its digital connectivity targets, outlined in its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. That strategy involves tackling barriers to deployment and creating the right conditions for investment to deliver better network coverage that supports current demands.

"A key part of this is making new spectrum available to increase capacity for mobile connectivity," the release stated. "The Ministry of Defence, in partnership with DCMS, has committed to making 168MHz of new spectrum available to facilitate the deployment of fixed and mobile networks. This means the Government has already exceeded its target to make 500MHz of public sector spectrum available for commercial use by 2020, and will continue to work with departments to explore opportunities for more spectrum to be made available."

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