The UK5G Advisory Board currently comprises of 27 leaders and experts drawn from both the supply side (providers of technology, infrastructure, operators, services) and the demand side (customers and potential customers of 5G). The aim of the Board is to provide impartial and industry-focused advice, guidance and support to the UK5G organisation and to the DCMS in order to accelerate the adoption of 5G, for citizens and for industry. The Chair of UK5G’s Advisory Board is Rosalind Singleton and the full list of all members can be found here.
The first meeting of the Board was on the 16th April in London, and was mainly an introductory session. At the 2nd meeting on the 17th July, the Board got down to business, kindly hosted by the global machine tool manufacturer Yamazaki Mazak UK in Worcester.
The Board had been invited by Mark Stansfield, Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP) & 5G Lead for Midlands Engine. Mark, who is also the Chairman of giffgaff is leading the Worcestershire 5G Consortium, and one of the recipients of the DCMS 5G test bed Testbeds & Trials - Phase 1 Project funding (see video here). The Worcester project is working with Worcestershire LEP, Worcestershire County Council, 5GIC at University of Surrey, AWTG, Huawei, O2, BT, QinetiQ, Malvern Hills Science Park and particular with two local factories: Worcester Bosch and Yamazaki Mazak.
The focus of this project is on how to increase industrial productivity through preventative and assisted maintenance using robotics, big data analytics and AR over 5G, as well as focusing on the vital issue of security, and the possibilities for new service business models.
The Board was welcomed by Marcus Burton of Yamazaki Mazak, then toured the European Technology Centre and factory, hearing at first hand the tangible business opportunities that will open up through 5G. This was particularly in the provision of services to customers based in factories throughout the world - all using machine tools built by Mazak. These opportunities will only be realised if factory IT managers can be convinced that 5G technology enabling the monitoring of their machines is cyber-safe.
It was agreed that it was important to link this work through to the Industrial Digitalisation Make Smarter and Industrial Strategy challenge fund.
The Board meeting itself took up the remainder of the day and covered:
- An explanation from DCMS officials on how the 5G Test Bed and Trials programme fits into the overall Digital Strategy, including an update on the upcoming Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review - which was published the following week.
- A presentation on the overall shape of the DCMS 5G Test Bed and Trials programme - covering the successful University Test Bed Network project supported by Bristol University, the 5G Innovation Centre, and Kings College; the 6 x Phase 1 Trials; the upcoming Urban Connected Community project [UCC]; and separate roads, rail and security projects. On the horizon are a Rural Connected Community project and potential future projects including options for a Rural Connected Communities project were also discussed.
- Feedback on the collaboration workshop event conducted with the Test bed & Trials Phase 1 projects (and external guests) on July 5th.
The 18 bids for UCC project have been through an exhaustive assessment process, and it is expected that the winning Urban area will be announced in the summer. The Board considered how UK5G might encourage the continued commitment of the urban areas runners up, which, although unsuccessful in this particular competition, might wish to build the momentum to become 5G enabled for the benefit of their businesses and citizens.
Discussions also covered the role that UK5G could have in supporting an international strategy, learning from 5G approaches being undertaken in other countries, expanding footprints of 5G related UK businesses overseas, and helping to encourage appropriate inward investment into the UK. The excellent 5G Nation report from the Digital Catapult is a great start, and gives a flavour of how much is going on in the UK.
Finally, Ros Singleton led the board to agree the creation of a number of working groups covering the following subject areas
- DCMS 5G Testbed and Trials - considering information sharing and collaboration best practice between project, reporting to the Board on the progress of the trials and highlighting key issues;
- International - looking at how to develop a clear exposition of UK capability, and recommending a plan of engagement - both in terms of partnership arrangements and global events;
- UK5G description and promotion - developing an elevator pitch that clearly articulates the benefits of engaging in UK5G and the role of the Advisory Board.
The Board will meet again in the 16th October in London where progress reports from the various working groups will be on the agenda.
A great day, a good turnout - and a wonderful focus on the genuine productivity benefits that 5G will bring.
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