UK invests £36M in pioneering ‘5G Innovation Regions’

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Ten multi-local authority areas spanning the entire UK will benefit from £36 million in funding, becoming designated 5G Innovation Regions (5GIRs). The initiative aims to drive the development and adoption of 5G and other cutting-edge wireless technologies, ushering in a new era of connectivity for towns, cities, and rural areas.

Among the winners is Glasgow City Region, which will receive over £3 million to implement a healthcare-focused project using 5G and other technologies like the Internet of Things. It will involve monitoring public assets, creating environmentally friendly social housing, and improving health and social care monitoring services.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority is also set to benefit, receiving over £3 million to 5G-enable hundreds of air-source heat pumps across social housing. This move aims to accelerate the creation of smart energy grids, allowing better energy use monitoring and delivering significant cost savings for residents, industry, and public services.

These developments are part of the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, with the 5G Innovation Regions programme committed to boosting innovation across various sectors, including advanced manufacturing, transport, agriculture, creative industries, and public services. The ultimate goal is to create better-connected places, unlocking the potential of 5G wireless and digital technologies.

Minister John Whittingdale said the funding “will reshape public services, drive economic growth and boost innovation.” He emphasised that 5G will go beyond smartphones to “transform various sectors.”

Today’s announcement coincides with the launch of a new advisory group representing all parts of the UK. This board will support local areas in presenting recommendations to the government on achieving digital connectivity goals, encouraging investment, and promoting local adoption.

The success of these regions will play a crucial role in realising the UK government’s vision outlined in the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy. Each region faces unique challenges and opportunities, making the programme a testbed for scalability, replicability, and sustainability.

The £36 million investment will be distributed among the ten winning regions, with projects ranging from digitising port operations to creating 5G Science Parks supporting research and development in quantum, space, health, and energy clusters.

The initiative also extends beyond the designated regions, with the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN) set to drive the adoption of 5G and advanced communication technologies nationwide.

Nick Johnson, Head of UKTIN, said: “Our support for 5G Innovation Regions is all part of UKTIN’s broader adoption programme, designed to offer practical and pragmatic guidance to help organisations and places confidently embark on connectivity projects.

“As a society, we will only reap the full benefits of advanced connectivity solutions like 5G when we support the public and private sectors to deploy, adopt and utilise these solutions at scale—delivering on our mission towards building a thriving UK telecoms ecosystem.”

(Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash)

See also: 5G-Advanced poised for enterprise success, but challenges persist

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