The arrival date for the next generation of wireless connectivity is on the horizon. 5G promises to overhaul the way we get online on the go. A high-bandwidth, low latency connection; the technology is poised to offer unheard of download speeds and the capabilities to handle huge amounts of data with relative ease.
The technologies of tomorrow, from self-driving cars to the latest smartphones, will be underpinned by a spiderweb of ultra-fast 5G infrastructure. The developments could revolutionise the ways in which we live our daily lives, and the UK Government is keen to assess just how far reaching these effects could be through a series of trials and testbeds across the country.
Investing in a ‘multi-city region’
As part of a hefty investment in the testing and trialling of 5G technology, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has chosen the West Midlands region as the UK’s first multi-city 5G test area, launching the technology in a variety of industries ahead of a nationwide rollout beginning end of 2019.
The West Midlands project, one of a number of 5G testbeds happening across the country, has a particular focus on the potential improvements the communications system can bring to the healthcare, construction and automotive industries.
Led by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), £75m has been awarded for the scheme; centred around the hubs of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
“5G has the potential to dramatically transform the way we go about our daily lives, and we want the citizens of the UK to be amongst the first to experience all the opportunities and benefits this new technology will bring. The West Midlands Testbed, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will be instrumental in helping us realise this ambition.” – Margot James, Minister for Digital
Initial projects in the pipeline include carrying out some outpatient appointments and emergency consultations by remote video link. The low latency of 5G should allow for seamless, high definition video quality, meaning patients can have convenient access to a professional from within their own home.
Further ideas to be trialled in the testbed include connecting ambulance crews to specialists via mobile video conferencing. This would enable ambulance crews to live stream from potentially life-threatening situations, ensuring that patients can receive urgent, immediate care and advice. 5G backed live streaming is also set to be trialled on public transportation CCTV, using artificial intelligence technology to offer more responsive monitoring of anti-social incidents.
Coventry on the rise
Part of the project will also focus on trialling self-driving car technology in the West Midlands region. A scheme co-ran by Jaguar Land Rover will begin testing driverless cars, analysing how 5G technology can be used for more responsive management of traffic flow and safety measures where autonomous vehicles are concerned.