UK Boosts Digital Connectivity with £36m Investment in Advanced Wireless Technologies

Local areas in the UK receive a substantial boost in their digital connectivity efforts. The initiative aims to revolutionise various sectors, leveraging advanced wireless technologies like 5G and pioneering solutions such as drones for agricultural monitoring, smart systems for congestion reduction and portable 5G networks enabling rapid live broadcasts from remote locales.

The announcement reveals that ten winning multi-local authority areas spanning the entirety of the UK will benefit from a generous share of £36 million. This funding will establish them as 5G Innovation Regions (5GIRs), spearheading the development and adoption of 5G and other cutting-edge wireless technologies. The primary objective is to ensure that communities, whether urban or rural, fully harness the advantages of advanced wireless connectivity. Moreover, it aims to attract commercial investments that will contribute to economic growth.

Among the beneficiaries, the Glasgow City Region is poised to receive over £3 million for a health and social care-focused project. This endeavour will utilise advanced wireless technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city applications to enhance public services. Specifically, the project aims to monitor and maintain assets, foster eco-friendly social housing and improve health and social care service monitoring.

Another recipient, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, is set to utilise part of its over £3 million allocation to 5G-enable hundreds of air source heat pumps across social housing. This move aligns with the UK’s ambition to expedite the creation of Smart Energy Grids, benefiting residents, industries and public services by offering improved energy monitoring capabilities and potential cost savings.

This initiative is a crucial commitment stemming from the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy. Its overarching goal is to stimulate innovation across various sectors, including manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, creative industries and public services. The expected outcome is the creation of more connected and technologically advanced environments throughout the UK.

Moreover, the announcement coincides with the launch of a new advisory group comprising representatives from all four parts of the UK. This group will provide support to local areas in presenting recommendations to the government, assisting in achieving their digital connectivity goals, fostering investment and promoting local-level adoption.

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister of Data and Digital Infrastructure, emphasised the substantial impact this funding will have on reshaping public services, driving economic growth and fostering innovation. He highlighted the transformative potential of 5G and digital technologies, envisioning a revolution that goes beyond smartphones, encompassing diverse sectors across the economy and public services nationwide.

UK Government minister for Scotland, John Lamont, reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring the widespread impact of 5G across the nation. He expressed delight at the substantial funding allocated to regions like Glasgow City Council, North Ayrshire Council and the Borderlands Region, emphasising their utilisation of technology to improve lives, accelerate digital adoption and boost tourism.

Ultimately, these winning regions will lead the charge in realising the UK government’s vision outlined in the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy. The goal is to empower communities across the UK, leveraging advanced wireless connectivity and digital technologies for transformative effects. This initiative aligns with the broader ambition to drive telecoms innovation, ensuring resilient networks and a competitive supply chain.

Recognising that each region faces unique challenges and opportunities, the program emphasises showcasing scalability, replicability and sustainability in their projects. This approach will enable the dissemination of project insights and benefits, further contributing to the nation’s technological advancement.

Building on the momentum of the 5G Innovation Regions initiative, the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN) is set to roll out a nationwide programme. This programme aims to propel the adoption of 5G and advanced communication technologies across key economic sectors such as manufacturing, health and social care, transport and logistics and agricultural technology.

UKTIN will work in close collaboration with the 5G Innovation Regions, establishing place-based working groups to facilitate the integration of transforming technologies. The objective is to assist businesses and regions across all parts of the UK in leveraging these advancements for their benefit.

Nick Johnson, Head of UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN), expressed enthusiasm at the diversity of recipients under the 5G Innovation Regions fund. He highlighted the significance of this initiative in promoting the adoption of advanced communication technologies across various sectors and regions.

While acknowledging the positive impact on the chosen ten regions, Johnson emphasised UKTIN’s pivotal role in disseminating their innovations and insights nationwide. The plan involves collaborating with successful regions to address adoption challenges, share best practices and impart valuable insights to communities throughout the UK. This dissemination strategy aims to ensure that all regions and nations benefit from the lessons learned through the 5G Innovation Regions and other relevant initiatives.

Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive of Mobile UK, welcomed the announcement of the winning innovation regions backed by substantial government funding. MacLeod emphasised the potential of 5G technologies to revolutionise and modernise public services across the country. The anticipation is for improved connectivity through 5G and advanced wireless technologies to bring about transformative effects in local areas. This includes faster, more reliable and secure connectivity for residents and businesses, thereby boosting local economies and enhancing the delivery of public services.

The concerted efforts of UKTIN, in collaboration with the 5G Innovation Regions and mobile connectivity leaders, indicate a comprehensive approach toward ensuring that the benefits of advanced technologies reach every corner of the nation. This strategic alignment aims to catalyse innovation, economic growth and improved services, ultimately contributing to a more connected and technologically advanced United Kingdom.

Source: UK Government