Testbeds & trials

West Mercia Rural 5G

  • Started on 1 Mar 2020
  • Completed on 30 Jun 2022

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Government funding: £3,285,705

Project Summary

Operating in the rural area where the counties of Shropshire and Worcestershire meet, ‘West Mercia Rural 5G’ will explore infrastructure challenges when planning, building and operating a rural 5G network and look at how 5G can enhance services for the benefit of residents, particularly researching 5G enabled health and social care applications.

Led by Worcestershire County Council, key partners on the network side are Airband and BT who will plan, build and operate the 5G network. Local NHS organisations alongside Worcestershire County Council and Shropshire Council will work on the health and social care applications. The University of Worcester, University Centre Shrewsbury, and West Midlands Academic Health Science Network are providing their expert support across the project.


More about this Project

The key partners on the network side are Airband and BT with further support provided through the Worcestershire 5G testbed. The project explores a new model to demonstrate how building mobile network infrastructure in rural areas could be done more cost effectively and at increased pace. In addition to building a new 5G Standalone network the project aims to make use of access to the public 4G network and private 4G and 5G Non-standalone network to allow use cases to understand performance across the technologies.

The local NHS organisations alongside Shropshire Council and Worcestershire County Council and private sector partners are leading on the development of the health and social care applications, with the University of Worcester, University Centre Shrewsbury and West Midlands Academic Health Science Network are providing their expert support to deliver new health and social care technology enabled pilots working with residents, care homes, community hospitals and doctors surgeries.

Two specific use cases include the ‘use of XR to support remote monitoring of patients’ and the ‘Connected Worker’ utilising wearable video & mobile telemedicine, with other use cases in development.

As an example, the XR solution from project partner TalkOut VR provides an augmented view of a patient, utlising biometric data that can be used in any place that human motion is desired to be studied, such as in the study and analysis of physical therapy, Parkinson's Disease or in the study of athletes in sports performance contexts. AR headsets capture image and depth data, which then use that information to build a body model on the server, in real time, using GPU-based deep neural networks. This data will then be used to overlay around a person with body model information and biostatistics gathered from analysis of that body model.


September 2020: West Mercia Rural 5G Project Announce 3UK Withdrawal

The West Mercia Rural 5G project members are disappointed to announce that project partner 3UK have taken a strategic decision to withdraw from our project. Whilst this presents a serious challenge to the ongoing viability of the project, we remain committed to working to identify the best possible solution to continue with the project.

Mark Stansfeld Chair of West Mercia Rural 5G:

Whilst disappointed by 3UKs withdrawal we do appreciate the wider reasons they have cited for their decision and thank them for their contribution to date.

Mr Stansfeld added "Technology projects, particularly those involved in research and development regularly experience changes in focus and priority particularly where organisations have senior governance changes. We are confident a suitable solution can be found, and will review all available options that are available to retain this important and exciting testbed project across the region."

The West Mercia Rural 5G project is exploring potential new models to demonstrate how building mobile network infrastructure in rural areas could be done more cost effectively and at increased pace; whilst also delivering new health and social care technology enabled pilots working with residents, care homes, community hospitals and doctors surgeries.

The withdrawal of 3UK at this early stage of delivery still gives the partnership a window of opportunity to review capabilities and opportunities. The partnership has already started discussions with potential replacement technical partners to join the project and intends to make an appropriate announcement in the coming weeks following due diligence.

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