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BT installs 5G network in rural Wales to demonstrate driverless pod capabilities

Image credit: bt

BT has installed one of the first permanent 5G networks in Europe at a showground in Llanelwedd, Wales as a demonstration of its capabilities.

The benefits of the new tech were highlighted by BT at the 100th Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, with visitors able to see 5G technology demonstrations including a connected driverless pod at the showground.

The vehicle has been touted as one of the first self-driving pods in the world to be connected to a live 5G network, with the vehicles designed to be used across a wide range of environments and industries.

The pods make use of 5G to stream data in real time, including 3D mapping models, video from the on-board safety cameras and ‘infotainment’ for passengers.

Nick Speed, BT Group director for Wales, said: “5G is the next generation of mobile technology and will transform the way we live and work. We’re hugely excited about what we can do with 5G today and in the future. This activation at the showground shows one of the many possibilities for farming, agriculture and rural tourism.”

Deputy minister for Economy Lee Waters said: “It’s excellent news that 5G is now available at the Royal Welsh showground and a great way to mark the show’s centenary.

“The Welsh Government has worked closely with EE from the outset to establish a mast at the showground and it is currently the only one outside of major cities which has been upgraded to 5G.

“As part of our Mobile Action Plan we have highlighted innovation and emerging technologies, including 5G, and the importance of working with major events, such as the Royal Welsh, to improve connectivity. 5G also opens up opportunities for agriculture technology developments and autonomous vehicles and it’s great to see this innovation happening in the rural community.”

Julian Turner, CEO of Westfield Technology Group, said: “We are really privileged to showcase the first driverless pod, rural 5G solution in the world. This is a perfect opportunity to illustrate how technology can improve people’s lives in a rural setting - and what better place to show it than the Royal Welsh Show.”

EE, which is part of BT Group, became the first network to launch 5G when it switched on coverage in six UK cities, including Cardiff, in May. It will be extended to the busiest parts of ten more UK cities this year. 

Other networks have quickly followed suit, with Vodafone turning on its 5G network earlier this month and O2 recently announcing it will launch its 5G in October.

Vodafone and O2 have also agreed to share some of their infrastructure to support the new networks in order to hasten rollout of the technology and improve coverage.

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