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Wide-ranging 5G applications backed with £28m funding

Image credit: Dreamstime

A joint investment from the government and businesses will go towards nine UK-wide projects to demonstrate the benefits of 5G, with a focus on improving lives and supporting industry.

The nine projects will seek to show how the country could reap the full benefits of the 5G rollout.

One of the projects will involve naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough appearing in a high-resolution “holographic” video via an AR (augmented reality) app, set to be released alongside the upcoming BBC series 'The Green Planet'. It has not been specified how the hologram will be generated.

The app – developed by EE, immersive content studio Factory 42, and other companies – will highlight the possibilities of 5G to wide audiences and show creative and technology companies how well the 5G network can handle extremely data-intensive content, the government said.

“This cutting-edge app, fronted by broadcasting legend Sir David Attenborough, is set to be an inspiring example of how new technology can reconnect us with the natural world whilst demonstrating the power of 5G to a huge new audience,” said Digital Infrastructure minister Matt Warman.

“5G is about so much more than faster mobile internet speeds so we’re investing millions to help some of Britain’s brightest innovators explore the huge potential of the technology to improve and enrich our lives. The projects we’ve selected will demonstrate how the blistering speeds of 5G can put some rocket fuel in our economy and help businesses bounce back from the pandemic,” he added.

Leeds-based production company Candour TV will try using 5G to wirelessly broadcast high-quality live content and transfer large video files from remote locations, extreme terrains, and extreme weather conditions. If the network holds up, there is hope that 5G could become a standard for the film production industry in the UK.

In London, O2’s Project Vista will explore how it can provide instant, multi-angle replays via smartphone during stadium events. The MK Stadium in Milton Keynes, meanwhile, will be rolling out autonomous taxis, smart parking management, and robots to help the site run more efficiently. In Cornwall, the Eden Project will be given funding to explore how 5G and 360° video could enhance visitor experiences. On the Isle of Wight, people will be able to try out VR yacht racing, in a test of 5G for the sports industry.

Some funding will also go towards ports, with 5G-powered yard cranes installed at the Port of Felixstowe and 5G real-time tracking for movement of goods at Bristol Port. There will also be trials of 5G cameras drones, and sensors at BAM Nuttall’s construction sites in Kilsyth, Glasgow, and Shetland.

Five of the projects will explore the technological possibilities of Open RAN: an approach to telecommunications networks which allows for much greater interoperability of radio equipment between vendors. This will allow network operators greater flexibility as they roll out their 5G infrastructure in the context of a government ban on all Huawei equipment in the network. The adoption of Open RAN is a key part of the government’s 5G Diversification Strategy.

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