The 5G testbeds will receive approximately $35 million in funding

The U.K. government has allocated £25 million ($ 34.7 million) in new funding to six 5G pilots across the country. The six projects are run by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), universities and local authorities. The pilots will each help to pave the way for the roll out of 5G technology in the coming years, the government said.

The selected pilots will test 5G across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, using the internet of things (IoT) to improve healthcare in the home, increasing manufacturing productivity and maximizing the future benefits of self-driving cars.

The £25m funding is part of the government’s broader £1 billion digital strategy, aimed at developing the country’s digital economy. Under the strategy, the government has announced the creation of new artificial intelligence (AI) fellowships and funding for 450 Ph.D. researchers to secure the UK’s leading position in the global AI market

“One year on from the digital strategy, we are delivering on our commitments to create a Britain fit for the future, with a thriving digital economy that works for everyone. The ground-breaking projects announced today will help to unlock 5G and ensure the benefits of this new technology are felt across the economy and wider society,” said Margot James, minister of state for digital and the creative industries.

The government said that each test bed site will receive between £2 million and £5 million in government grants, as part of a total investment of £41m from private sector and other public sector funding.

The winning projects are as follows:

  • 5G RuralFirst: Rural coverage and dynamic spectrum access testbed and trial led by Cisco. 5G RuralFirst will receive a grant of £4.3 million. Under this project, Cisco will partner with the University of Strathclyde to deliver testbeds and trials to exploit 5G benefits for rural communities and industries like agriculture, broadcasting, and utilities, to address the challenges of and build the business case for 5G rural deployment.
  • 5G Smart Tourism led by the West of England Combined Authority. This project, which will receive a grant of £5 million, mainly focuses on promoting the benefits of 5G to Britain’s tourism sector, delivering enhanced visual experiences for tourists using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology.
  • Worcestershire 5G Consortium led by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership. This project is headed by a consortium comprised of Worcestershire County Council, 5GIC at University of Surrey, AWTG, Huawei, O2, BT and Malvern Hills Science Park. The 5G testbed will receive a grant of £4.8 million. The focus is on the maintenance preventative potential of robotics, big data, analytics and AR over 5G, while simultaneously focusing on cyber security.
  • Liverpool 5G Testbed led by Sensor City. This initiative, which has secured £3.5 million in funding, will focus on reducing the digital divide in underprivileged areas of the U.K., while also focussing on a range of applications in the country’s health sector.
  • AutoAir: 5G Testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles led by Airspan Communications Ltd. This testbed will focus on the 5G applications of a range of connected and autonomous vehicles.  The 5G trial will receive a grant of £4.1 million and will focus on the development of 5G small cells operating in both licensed sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave bands on a shared neutral host platform, which allows multiple public and private 5G operators to simultaneously use the same infrastructure using network slicing.

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