5G industry news Technologies | Augmented, Virtual & Mixed Reality

£28 million to trial innovative new uses of 5G to improve people’s lives

  • 6 minute read
  • Published on 13 Jan 2021
  • Last modified 13 Jan 2021
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  • Government-funded test projects include improving fan experiences at O2 arena and MK Dons stadium, trialing 5G-powered cargo ports and boosting tourism sites such as the Eden Project 

  • One scheme will see Sir David Attenborough swap the TV airwaves for 5G to show people the wonders of the natural world through modern technology

  • More than half of the projects will use new Open RAN technology as the government drives greater diversification in the 5G supply chain

Sir David Attenborough to trial 5G-powered Augmented Reality app

Sir David Attenborough will take to 5G for the first time to show people the wonders of the natural world, as part of a government-funded trial to explore the potential of 5G to improve people’s lives and help build back better from the pandemic.

A new augmented reality app, to be released alongside upcoming BBC series The Green Planet, will see users stream high resolution ‘holographic’ video of Sir David as meticulously detailed graphics of exotic plants and animals adorn their surroundings.

Developed by a consortium of leading creative and technology firms, including EE and London-based immersive content studio Factory 42, the app will highlight the possibilities of 5G to new audiences and show other creative and technology firms how the ultrafast network can handle data-intensive immersive content. It will also get people engaged with nature and wildlife.

It is one of nine projects to receive funding as part of a £28.3 million joint investment between government and businesses to test how the country can seize the full benefits of 5G and help British industries capitalise on the power of modern technology.

“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 our lives.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman

“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.”

On the Sir David Attenborough fronted app Warman added:

“5G Create is about exploring new and inventive ways we can use 5G to give British industries a competitive advantage. 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.”

5G will be put to use in some of Britain’s biggest venues. In London, O2’s Project Vista will explore how it can provide instant, multi-angle replays via smartphones during stadium events. The MK Stadium, home to Milton Keynes Dons FC, will be kitted out with driverless taxis, smart parking management and robots to help the site run more efficiently and enhance experiences for spectators and staff. 

Award-winning Leeds-based TV production company Candour TV will test 5G’s ability to broadcast high quality live content and transfer huge video files from a variety of remote locations, extreme terrains and weather conditions. Filmed activities will include caving in the Yorkshire Dales, sea cliff climbing in North Wales and ultra-running across Britain.  

This capability, if proven, could see 5G becoming a standard for the film production industry in the UK - not just in TV production but could also hugely benefit social media content creators, outdoor events companies, music and performance festivals and many others. 

5G to support tourism

To support the tourism sector, the Eden Project in Cornwall will explore how 5G and 360 degree video can enhance the visitor experience and allow anyone to enjoy the exhibits and talks. On the Isle of Wight people will be encouraged to take up yacht racing using immersive virtual reality experiences in a bid to explore use-cases for the sports’ industry.

In a boost to Global Britain, the funding will help improve operations at ports. 5G-powered yard cranes will aim to improve productivity at the Port of Felixstowe while at Bristol Port 5G will enable the real-time tracking of movement of goods. This is part of the Government’s push to harness tech to turbocharge our future as an independent trading nation. 

Trials will also explore how 5G can support the construction industry: testing 5G-powered cameras, drones and sensors at BAM Nuttall’s construction sites in Kilsyth, Glasgow and Shetland.

“The UK Government is funding 5G innovation trials to help Scottish industry harness the opportunities and possibilities 5G offers.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart

“5G is an exciting technology, with higher connection speeds and capacity having potential to enable the use of innovate technology, transforming industry.

“I’m delighted this significant UK Government investment is funding such an important project in Scotland.”

5G Create is part of the government’s £200 million investment

5G Create is part of the government’s £200 million investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to explore new ways that 5G can boost productivity, grow existing businesses or spark new ones. In the competition’s second round, DCMS has provided £15.2 million to be shared across the nine projects with the remaining £13.1 million coming from project partners.

Five of the projects will also test out the technical possibilities of Open RAN - an alternative way of building telecoms networks that allows for greater interoperability of radio equipment between vendors and will give operators more choice and flexibility as they roll out 5G infrastructure.

The adoption of Open RAN forms a key element of the government’s 5G Diversification Strategy which aims to boost diversity, competition and security in the digital infrastructure supply chain.

Notes to editors

5G Create was an open competition set up to explore the potential for 5G in a wide range of sectors. It aims to explore and develop new 5G use-cases and demonstrate sustainability after government funding finishes. It took place across two windows. DCMS announced the first six winners on 31 July and is now announcing nine winners from the second window.

Subject to grant funding agreements and due diligence, DCMS will co-fund 9 new projects (bringing the total to 15 5G Create projects) from a range of sectors including: tourism, sport, logistics, transport, creative industries and construction.

OpenRAN projects include:

Eden Universe 

Connected Cowes 


Live and Wild: Filming with 5G 

5G Logistics

Other projects include:

The Green Planet AR

Project Vista

Milton Keynes 5G (MK5G)

5G Ports - Port of Felixstowe

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