Government funding: £3,285,705
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 Three 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.
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 said ‘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.