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Five Ways Scotland is Mastering the Opportunity of 5G

Derek Boyd


5G networks

Derek Boyd, interim director at the Scotland 5G Centre explains why the nation can become a world leader in 5G.

A new study from the GSMA – the international trade body for mobile telecommunication operators – predicts that 5G will account for as many as one-in-five worldwide mobile connections by 2025.

In the UK, we saw the first 5G network launched by EE in May 2019, and since then, new high-speed mobile networks have been introduced in more than 50 towns and cities – from Birmingham and Belfast to Hamilton and Huddersfield.

However, 5G remains much more than faster internet connections and download speeds; the possibilities are far greater than what has previously been possible with 3G or 4G.

As well as boosting connectivity for people living in remote communities, 5G presents new opportunities for smart living and connected businesses, for example, through the Internet of Things (IoT) and new possibilities for real-time data sharing.

In Scotland alone, the introduction and adoption of 5G networks could increase gross domestic product (GDP) by more than £17 billion – equivalent to 8.3% of the country’s current total economic output. Scotland has the potential to become a global leader in 5G, with the expertise and resources to support its development and adoption.

A number of projects are already underway, exploring how 5G can be deployed nationwide and used in real-world scenarios.

Connectivity in Rural Locations

The 5G New Thinking project, led by Cisco Systems and the University of Strathclyde, with support from the Scotland 5G Centre, aims to build on the existing 5G RuralFirst project to create 5G shared spectrum rural networks in the Orkney Islands.

The University of Strathclyde is also creating a rural 5G connectivity testbed site in the Loch Lomond area, providing a platform for partners and businesses to investigate wireless broadband networks and mobile connectivity, helping to stimulate and facilitate access across sectors such as tourism, energy, healthcare and education.

Enhancing Live Entertainment

Vodafone has announced a new partnership with the SSE Hydro in Glasgow – becoming the venue’s official technology partner. A key element of this includes a new on-site ‘super-suite’ which will be used for branded experiences that will showcase the latest 5G-enabled technologies and IoT, creating a new interactive experience for music and sports fans that visit the venue.

Creating Urban Innovation Districts

The University of Glasgow is creating a 5G-enabled testbed around its new west-end campus, allowing Scottish and UK businesses to test new applications of 5G in an urban setting. For example, this could include autonomous vehicles or sensor-led healthcare innovations. The testbed project includes the design and build of a unique self-organising network, as well as a local network and an IoT platform.

Smart Subway Travel

The 5G RailNext project is a partnership between a number of industry experts and academic researchers in the UK and South Korea.  The project team will look at ‘infotainment’ and providing high-speed 5G enabled connectivity to underground trains. The Glasgow subway system and Seoul metro, in South Korea, will provide testbeds for getting gigabit connectivity to subway trains which operate in underground tunnels.

Engineering teams from industry and academia will collaborate on engineering and use case designs. Project partners in the UK will also create AR and VR apps to demonstrate possible applications that require low latency and high data rates.

National Infrastructure Roll-out

Successful deployment of a nationwide 5G network depends on access to a number of assets – such as land and buildings – which is essential for improving connectivity.

Scottish Futures Trust is leading a new initiative, the Infrastructure Deployment Accelerator, which aims to help communications providers and the public sector work together to roll out the 5G network, by standardising processes and gaining a better understanding of how land and buildings could be more effectively utilised.

This is only a snapshot of the 5G activities currently taking place in Scotland, and as the infrastructure and ecosystem develops further, we will inevitably see additional projects and applications emerging – supporting Scotland’s position at the forefront of 5G.

About Scotland 5G Centre:

The Scotland 5G Centre was set up to accelerate the adoption of 5G and realise its economic and societal potential for Scotland. The S5GC has received investment from the Scottish Government and is an innovative partnership between the University of Strathclyde (which hosts the Centre), the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Futures Trust.

The Centre is collaborating with businesses, researchers and the public sector across Scotland to realise the benefits of 5G.

Derek Boyd

Interim Director, Scotland 5G Centre

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