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Birmingham at centre of 5G pilot scheme

By David Hayward, managing director of Pure Telecom

The launch of a new business magazine in the West Midlands seems the ideal time to talk about the exciting prospect of the area being chosen by the Government as a testbed for a multi-million pound trial aimed at smoothing the way to rollout high-speed 5G across the country.

It’s a large-scale pilot scheme designed to bring faster connectivity and is the latest step in the Government’s 5G Testbed and Trials Programme. It means the West Midlands will be the first region chosen to trial new 5G applications and services to scale.

The Urban Connected Communities Project will focus on hubs in Birmingham (it’s all about being in the right place at the right time!), Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Up to £50 million has been made available to fund this project with half coming from the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and half from regional partners. There is also the possibility that a further £25m will be made available at a later date.

The DCMS funding comes from £200 million set aside by Government to develop 5G technologies as part of more than £1bn of investment in next generation digital infrastructure.

I am delighted the West Midlands has been selected for such a trial, it’s the ideal location to further test the capabilities of 5G and pave the way to a system which is going to drastically alter our day-to-day lives. It really is a game changer and will open up a range of benefits and opportunities.

The choice of the West Midlands shows just how important the area is viewed and recognised as a leader in business, innovation and technology. You get a feeling of just how important this project is when one considers that this testbed is the first of its kind anywhere in the world!

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said it would form ‘the backbone of our future economy and society’ - powerful stuff but his comments only echo what we in the industry are saying, that the potential of this technology is endless.

General 5G trials will start at Vodafone, O2 and EE this year, with EE expecting a smaller scale commercial deployment towards the end of 2019 and likely to use the recently auctioned 3.4GHz band. We are eagerly awaiting more news from the top providers and should be hearing something soon.

The 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy which is designed to invest in industries, skills and infrastructure for the future. It also has the goal of continuing to drive the UK’s connectivity, digital and telecommunications sectors.

Following selection for the scheme, the West Midlands Combined Authority has been working with its partners preparing a formal business case, with the first in a series of projects expected to go live early next year.

The aim is to help drive economic growth and benefit people’s lives by taking part in new digital technologies and digitally transformed public services with the overall focus on the health, automotive and construction sectors.

Plans include carrying out hospital appointments and emergency consultations via video link that will prove much more convenient for patients and also give them the capability of being able to play back the appointment at a later date for the benefit of a health professional or family member who may be involved in delivering care.

The vision includes making the provision for ambulance crews and paramedics at the scene of an incident to have the facility of video conferencing with clinical specialists and consultants, and live streaming of patient data from the ambulance while on the way to hospital.

The project also includes an enhanced service to tackle anti-social behaviour through live streaming, Intelligent Cameras and artificial intelligence. There are even plans to apply this new technology to autonomous vehicles, helping to progress the introduction of driverless cars.

There has been much in the news lately about driverless cars and 5G will help to transform the way we currently travel by improving traffic flow, preventing serious accidents and reducing energy consumption.

The power of 5G technology will help create the jobs of the future, improve the way we conduct business, allow us to better monitor the health of the most vulnerable age groups in our communities and deliver our public services more efficiently.

This testbed is an integral part of launching the next level of technology to benefit business, individuals and other groups and organisations. Pure Telecom is always striving to improve connectivity for our clients by working with market leaders in the telecoms industry.

It’s a momentous time in our technological evolution and we are proud and excited to be part of it.

Finally, Pure Telecom is delighted to be featured in the first issue of the new Birmingham Business magazine and our staff would like to wish Carl, Henry and their team all the very best with their new edition.

We are sure it will be a massive hit, following on from the major successes of the Shropshire and Cheshire magazines - both of which have helped and promoted Pure Telecom greatly.

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