UK Gov Launches £30m 5G Competition

The UK government has launched a nation-wide funding competition for projects designed to bring 5G to the British countryside. 

The Rural Connected Communities competition will fund up to 10 different 5G research and development projects to run over the course of two years as part of the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. The competition is open to applications from groups from across the UK and is expected to attract consortia built from a mixture of academia and organizations in the public, private and third sectors. 

Judges are looking for projects that will trial innovative use cases and technical solutions to build the business case for investment in rural connectivity. Projects are expected to explore the capabilities of 5G to benefit rural communities and help demonstrate demand for 5G technologies from a variety of economic sectors and rural communities for 5G technologies.

Winning projects will be brought to life using £30m of funding supplied by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This hefty chunk of change will come from the £200m of investment allocated to the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

Digital secretary Nicky Morgan said: “In modern Britain people expect to be connected wherever they are. And so, we’re committed to securing widespread mobile coverage and must make sure we have the right planning laws to give the UK the best infrastructure to stay ahead.”

Entrants have until midday on October 25, 2019, to submit their applications. Shortlisted applicants will be notified by November 14 and invited for an interview. Applicants whose projects are given the green light will hear the good news by the end of December 2019. As Christmas presents go, that certainly beats the vest your gran gave you last year. 

A free-to-attend competition briefing event is being held at The Carriageworks in Leeds on September 12, 2019. 

5G offers mobile speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations, making its potential impact on rural areas where signal is historically poor, significant. It remains to be seen whether rural communities will welcome the installation of the taller mobile phone masts needed to support the new technology. 

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