London Tech Week kicks off with initiatives to boost UK telecoms

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The 10th London Tech Week has commenced with a series of ambitious initiatives aimed at solidifying the UK’s position as a telecoms leader.

Some of the initiatives announced this week include:

  • Supporting local authorities in procuring and testing “smart lampposts” to enhance connectivity within communities
  • Signing a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK and Australia to establish a roadmap for future telecoms collaboration
  • Connecting the remote and inaccessible community of Papa Stour to high-speed broadband

The UK government has identified future telecoms as one of its five key technologies and is committed to ensuring that the country remains a global leader in the sector. These initiatives are part of the government’s strategy to improve connectivity for both individuals and businesses across the nation.

Sir John Whittingdale, UK Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said in a speech at London Tech Week:

“Our announcements today will help ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to high-speed broadband and other digital services that they need to thrive in the 21st century.

Improving Papa Stour’s connectivity is a major milestone in our efforts to close the digital divide as it transforms the lives of the island’s residents and visitors.

The Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme shows how we can use technology to make our communities a better place to live and work and the MoU we have signed with Australia is a significant step in our efforts to work with international partners to build a more secure and resilient telecoms network.

Improving digital connectivity is a top priority for the government. Our mission is to deliver fast, reliable connectivity for everyone in the UK and to continue to be a global leader in telecoms, and today’s package shows exactly that.”

The installation of a specialist Kymeta flat panel by Clarus Networks Group marks the beginning of the transformation of Papa Stour’s digital infrastructure. The panel will link to OneWeb’s constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, beaming high-speed and reliable broadband connections to the island from space.

Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, commented:

“OneWeb has always sought to use satellite connectivity to bridge the digital divide for communities and businesses around the world.

Connectivity is vital for all but especially so for the most remote communities, and we are delighted to be working with the government and our partners on this trial to bring high-speed, low latency connectivity to those living and working on the island.”

This initiative, part of the government’s Alpha Trial program, aims to test the viability of low-orbit satellites in delivering connectivity to hard-to-reach areas.

Paul Coffey, CTO of The Clarus Networks Group, expressed excitement about the project, noting that it will bring lightning-fast and reliable internet to Papa Stour for the first time, opening up new possibilities for businesses and tourism.

In addition to improving connectivity in remote areas, the UK government launched the Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) during London Tech Week. SIPP aims to help local authorities deploy advanced digital infrastructure, such as smart lampposts, to enhance connectivity and innovation.

SIPP will provide up to £1.5 million in funding for six local authority-led pilots, facilitating the procurement and testing of innovative smart multi-purpose columns or lampposts. These columns can deliver various smart services, including improved mobile network connectivity, public Wi-Fi, electric vehicle charging, public safety, and environmental monitoring.

The launch of SIPP aligns with the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which aims to maximise the benefits of 5G and other advanced wireless connectivity across the UK. The program contributes to the government’s levelling up priorities, ensuring widespread access to the advantages of robust connectivity in communities throughout the country.

Furthermore, Minister Whittingdale announced a Memorandum of Understanding on Telecoms Diversification between the UK and Australia.

The MoU signifies the commitment of both nations to collaborate on reducing global reliance on a limited number of telecom equipment vendors and attracting new entrants to the UK market. The agreement will strengthen cooperation on diversification, particularly in the development of open and interoperable solutions such as open RAN—allowing providers to choose solutions from multiple vendors, fostering vendor diversity in the telecoms ecosystem.

London Tech Week serves as a platform for showcasing these bold initiatives. The efforts to connect remote communities, enhance local connectivity through smart infrastructure, and foster international partnerships are significant steps towards driving innovation and bridging the digital divide.

(Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash)

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