Case Studies

The West Midlands has won the race to become the UK’s first 5G mobile internet test bed, it has been announced today.

Margot James MP and Andy Street make the announcement at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and are pictured with, left, lead nurse for Clinical IT Helen Gyves

The region beat off competition from 18 other areas of the country to land the multi-million pound deal, which will see it get super fast connectivity before anywhere else.

The pilot scheme – the first of its kind in the world – will run from Wolverhampton through Sandwell and into Birmingham.

It will see an initial £50 million of Government cash used to create a 5G network primarily on public sector sites across the region.

It will give mobile users reliable network speeds of up to 1GB, enabling downloads in seconds, as well as providing a boost for major boost for local businesses.

Digital Minister Margot James, the MP for Stourbridge, said: “5G has the potential to dramatically transform the way we go about our daily lives, and we want the citizens of the UK to be amongst the first to experience all the opportunities and benefits this new technology will bring.

“The West Midlands Testbed, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will be instrumental in helping us realise this ambition.”

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will now work with the Government’s 5G testbeds and trials team and industry partners on preparing the formal business case for approval.

The first series of 5G projects are expected to be launched early next year, and will focus on health, construction and automotive sectors.

Initial schemes include: Live streaming of CCTV footage from public transport buses, enabling police officers to take immediate action against anti-social behaviour; facilitating the ‘real world’ testing of driverless cars with Jaguar Land Rover; ‘connected ambulances’ enabling paramedic crews at an incident to access specialist advice while they are at the scene through video conferencing and the live streaming of patient data.

The first 5G mobile handsets will start to appear next year, with mobile operators offering 5G in high traffic areas such stations and stadiums from 2020.