Skip to main content
Home » Smart Cities » How British ingenuity is building our 5G cities
Smart Cities 2021

How British ingenuity is building our 5G cities

iStock / Getty Images Plus

Matt Warman

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport)

The 5G Testbeds and Trials programme is pioneering new ways to harness cutting-edge new technology in urban areas.

Making the most of 5G is central to the Government’s levelling up agenda. The £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials programme has over a thousand organisations collaborating across more than 30 major projects.

5G lessons for the urban landscape

The aim is to explore new frontiers of what 5G can do in a range of sectors and use what we learn to deliver on the vision of a truly 21st century smart city.

In Worcestershire and Sunderland, 5G is helping to boost manufacturing productivity on factory floors, connecting machines and driverless vehicles for better feedback, control and analysis in real-time.

Our investment in the brilliant minds behind the 5G revolution will be critical to us achieving this national mission.

In Manchester, 5G sensors are being used for AI-controlled traffic junctions. These are testing prioritising different modes of transport to reduce journey times, cut pollution and improve protection for cyclists and pedestrians. 

In the birthplace of the industrial revolution, the West Midlands, we established the UK’s first urban-wide 5G testbed, opening the door to many cutting-edge projects. The most recent is Britain’s first 5G tram, which transmits real-time analytics and CCTV footage direct to a control centre for a safer and smoother journey.

5G is also being used to reinvent the way fans experience live sports events. Trials will take place at Twickenham later this year using the technology to stream live, multi-angle, high-definition replays and interactive content directly to people’s handsets both inside and outside the stadium.

Endless possibilities for levelling up

Elsewhere, we’ve discovered how 5G can change lives in less obvious ways. A 5G network built in a deprived area of Liverpool provided free connectivity and remote healthcare for the elderly – tackling loneliness and allowing them to live more independently.

Also we are learning how 5G can revolutionise not only our existing cities, but the way we build new ones. In sites across Scotland, construction firm BAM Nuttall is trialling 5G drones and mixed reality to help learn how we can build more sustainable environments.

From what I’ve witnessed in these trials, it’s clear to me that the dynamic commercial spirit of this country holds the key to building back better. Our investment in the brilliant minds behind the 5G revolution will be critical to us achieving this national mission.

Next article