Cities invited to apply to government's 5G development fund

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Cities invited to apply to government's 5G development fund

One lucky city in the UK could have all its telecoms dreams for 5G connectivity come true. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced a project that could mean funding being awarded to a city that will assist with it developing and implementing 5G technology and associated business systems.

The initiative is called the Urban Connected Communities Project, and it is taking applications from large towns and cities to be part of it. Local authorities - or even combinations of authorities - with a telecoms coverage area of at least half a million people, can present their case to receive funding for 5G technology, VOIP systems and business systems, which would be a huge boost to the area.

Digital minister, Margot James, announced that the project was an amazing opportunity for a local area to become a flagship of telecoms innovation. Ms James sees the project as not only an incredible opportunity for the recipients, but as a vital part of the UK’s efforts to future-proof itself and become a global leader in areas such as business systems and VOIP systems. Being part of 5G trials would enable an urban area to directly experience the economic benefits of the technology, see how it is best used, and benefit from added connectivity for ordinary people and business systems, she said.

The funding for the project will come from £200 million set aside for developing 5G technology. This, in turn, is part of an investment of more than a billion pounds in the development of digital infrastructure. However, some industry commentators believe that the Government is not spending as much as it should on next-generation digital technology, nor as much as other countries in the advanced world.

Recently, the Government gave nearly £24 million to a small group of businesses and local authorities to develop 5G technology, but this appears to be an isolated incident rather than one example of many. Although the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been seen to be quite pleased with its billion pound 5G fund, industry insiders feel that unless the money is actually distributed through the economy, then it serves no purpose.

Around 14 areas in the UK qualify for the 5G project by having enough people to meet the programme’s criteria. This, of course, includes cities such as London, Glasgow and Manchester. Some industry commentators feel that the criteria for the project are somewhat narrow, as the UK is not that big. Some see the announcement of the project as more of a PR exercise than a major initiative towards generating meaningful progress in establishing 5G services throughout the UK.

Industry leaders hope that the UK’s position as a world leader in digital and economic spheres is restored, but concrete action needs to be taken to make this happen. Many of them feel that not enough is being done, and more money needs to be spent in the short term to ensure that benefits and economic success in the long term are secured. Some feel that the UK is currently in a counterproductive spiral heading nowhere and that the Government is not doing enough to stop this and place the country on an upward trajectory.