5G industry news

DCMS Publishes Update on 5G Testbeds and Trials

  • 4 minute read
  • Published by Eleanor Brash on 10 Sep 2018
  • Last modified 10 Sep 2018
A new report, released today, outlines the progress made to date in the government's 5G Testbeds and Trials (5GTT) programme and outlines future areas for involvement.

The 5GTT is a core part of the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review as announced in the Government's Industrial Strategy. All in all, the government is investing over £1Bn in digital infrastructure, £200M of which has been allocated to the 5GTT. Through these projects the Government intends to pilot deployment and business models, provide an inclusive environment for UK businesses (including SMEs) to develop 5G applications, leverage UK strengths in security and scientific research and contribute to economic development in different areas of the country.

Opportunities that 5G could enable include the development, trialling and use of new capabilities in core networks as well as interactions involving a range of other wireless networks (potentially including future 5G radio networks as well as legacy 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi etc). Applications that will benefit from 5G connectivity are present in every sector, including healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, transport & logistics to name a few.

For the full update on 5GTT, read the full report from the DCMS. For a brief overview of each project status, read on below.

5GTT Programme Funded Projects

5GTT Programme Activity

5GUK Test Networks

5GUK, the world's first end-to-end 5G network, was completed in March 2018. Costing £16M, the network was a successful collaboration between the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, the University of Bristol and King's College, London.

Demonstrations to date on 5GUK include a robotic football player, interactive entertainment in Bristol and a connected musical performance from artists in two completely different countries.

Phase 1 Projects

Six Phase 1 Projects located across the country were announced as the winners of a £25M competition. These projects are tasked with exploring innovative use cases of next generation radio technology and tackle manufacturing, agriculture, rural connectivity, healthcare, transport and more. More details are available here.


The Innovation Network dedicated to the promotion of research, collaboration and the commercial application of 5G was launched in March. Its senior national advisory board provides expert feedback from industry to the 5GTT programme, identifying their priorities and advising on potential future areas of focus.


In the 2017 Autumn Budget the Government allocated £5M to consider new business models for improving 5G connectivity on the UK's roads and a feasibility study is currently underway to explore demand, due to be completed in December 2019. The study is collaborating with ongoing projects, for example UK CITE, Midlands CAV and the CCAV.


Another £35M was announced in the same budget to enhance connectivity on the UK's railways. To support this, Network Rail's Innovation and Development Centre at Melton Mowbray is being upgraded. There are also plans underway within the Transpennine region to trial 5G track-to-train connectivity. 

DCMS recently launched a call for information for the Transpennine project. The closing date for comments to be submitted is noon 14th​ September 2018​.


Working with the National Cyber Security Centre, £10M has been allocated to ensure the security and resilience of the UK's telecom networks.

Further 5GTT projects

Urban Connected Communities

The West Midlands Combined Authority was recently announced as the winner of up to £50M funding to create the UK's first, multi-city 5G testbed. The project will develop technology to innovatively deliver public and commercial serices and to improve the quality of urban living and working.

DCMS and UK5G are also engaging with other local authorities who are keen to take full advantage of 5G.

Rural Connected Communities

RCC will explore new commercial models and technical solutions to improve coverage in rural areas. It will promote demand from consumers, enterprises and the public sector. DCMS will work with local authorities to finalise options for this programme in the autumn.

Sector Testbed and Trials

These projects, to be explored further in Autumn 2018, will focus on specific vertical sectors with the expectation of collaboration with the telecoms industry, local authorities, the public sector and academia. £25M has been allocated to support several testbeds.

Additional Future Projects

  1. The Open Programme Funding
  2. Local Full Fibre Networks Programme
  3. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund