5G World: 5G RuralFirst to 5G New Thinking

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Starts 3 Sep 12:45

Ends 3 Sep 13:35

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The journey to building sustainable connectivity for our rural communities

Panel Outline

5G New Thinking is a collaboration involving diverse partners developing the tools, processes and business models that will empower rural and poorly connected communities to rapidly establish next generation and 5G connectivity for local benefit. This panel focuses on how a deployment toolkit for next generation communications networks, using 5G technologies and strategies, can support under-served communities.

Currently, only 66% of the UK landmass is being served by all four UK mobile network operators and there are still 610,000 homes and businesses that don’t receive adequate broadband service; as investment predominantly focuses on areas with higher population density. Bringing together a consortium of public and private sector organisations, and working closely with communities in the Orkney Islands, the Borderlands and Northern Ireland, 5G New Thinking will deliver a replicable and flexible approach for developing local connectivity.

This session will explore:

How this project builds on the learnings from trials undertaken as part of 5G RuralFirst, a Cisco-led DCMS 5G Trials and Testbed programme phase one project
How 5G New Thinking will help by providing a practical how-to guide for rural communities looking to capitalise on this opportunity and invest in local connectivity
And, how, by making this guidance widely available, 5G New Thinking aims to stimulate local investment in rural connectivity across the country, to close the rural digital divide


  • Dez O’ Connor, CISCO

Dez has been innovating across the telecoms sector his entire career. Having lead product development in several service providers, Dez has overseen the network evolution from 2G, to 5G. He also ran a telecommunications management consultancy serving customers across Europe, Americas and Asia.

More recently Dez develops Cisco’s global 5G and WiFi6 business, chairs Cisco’s open V-RAN ecosystem, and runs a CTO roll for UK Governments 5G Rural-First and now 5G New Thinking, consortium testbeds designed to make the case & develop rural coverage.

  • Robert Stewart, Universtiy of Strathclyde

Bob is a full time member of University of Strathclyde’s R&D department, focused on software defined radio (SDR) and Dynamic Spectrum Access for rural mobile/wireless applications. He is also Director of the Centre for White Space Communications at University of Strathclyde, working on a number of joint industry, academic and government projects which included 5GRuralFirst, which was the predecessor of 5G New Thinking.

  • Clare Hanratty, Pure Leapfrog

Pure Leapfrog is the result of a merger between two charities dedicated to the support of community energy. Claire has been working with Leapfrog’s charity and finance businesses to create a ‘virtuous circle’ that delivers a focus on a ‘just transition’ to ensure underserved or disadvantaged individuals and communities are able to capture the benefits of a lower carbon society.