The Scotland 5G Centre will create a series of 5G hubs following a £4 million investment from the Scottish Government.
As part of its newly-announced S5GConnect Programme, the Centre will create a series of hubs aimed at delivering the next stage of Holyrood’s 5G Strategy.
The hubs will provide a private network with advanced capabilities and access to an accelerator facility and mentoring schemes. By working work with mobile operators and private network providers, it is hoped the Centre will be able to accelerate regional 5G networks.
The first hub will be based in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, where it will serve the wider Forth Valley region. It will build on a partnership between Scotland’s International Environment Centre, which is part of the University of Stirling, and telecoms group BT.
10 hubs are set to be established in total, according to the Centre, with an initial focus placed on the delivery of digital platforms that support job creation, skills programmes, and innovation support for SME and R&D activities.
Its first project will aim to develop a green data recovery platform to support Scotland’s net-zero economy.
The hubs will also provide specific support packages for small businesses due to the import role small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in the Scottish economy. They will support SME engagement where they can develop, prototype and test real-world experiments and use cases over a 5G innovation platform, offer one-to-one consultancy and professional support to develop and scale businesses.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity, and the Islands said: “The 5G revolution presents a significant opportunity for us in the years ahead, and seizing such opportunities is particularly important as we look to build the economic recovery following the lockdown required to suppress the COVID-19 virus.
“A study conducted by Deloitte in 2019 found that harnessing enhanced 4G and 5G connectivity could increase Scotland’s GDP by more than £17 billion by 2035.”
Wheelhouse added: “The Scottish Government’s investment of £4m through the S5GConnect programme will enhance and widen digital connectivity in all parts of the country because we believe that it is through deploying next-generation technologies that we can create something special for businesses, families and communities.
“Potential locations for nine additional hubs across Scotland are being considered with plans for further rollout over the course of 2020 and 2021.”
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The S5GConnect Programme aims to bridge the gap between academia, industry and government bodies. By accelerating 5G deployment and the adoption of 5G services, the project will help businesses, organisations and people reap the benefits of this new connectivity platform.
The Scotland 5G Centre is working and collaborating to build on Scotland’s existing Innovation Centres and government initiatives to accelerate the post pandemic recovery. It aims to address the digital gap that has been highlighted as key to ensuring Scotland’s business sectors, health care and education can thrive in the new economic environment
Combined, the hubs aim to enhance Scotland’s overall connectivity by building a national infrastructure, creating momentum that establishes the entire country as a global leader in 5G technologies.
CEO at The Scotland 5G Centre Paul Coffey said: “The role of the Scotland 5G Centre is to act as a catalyst for bringing together industry, academia and the public sector and this programme allows us to do that. We are excited to begin working with industry partners from a variety of sectors on this initiative.
“5G deployment has commenced, but the technology is still nascent – and some of the new use cases are still a few years away. The S5GConnect Hubs will play a key role in accelerating that process and making the potential of 5G a reality. They will think nationally, but act locally, bringing together global and national priorities with local expertise through the reach of existing regional centres and organisations.
“We are working in tandem with the national network of development agencies and enterprise accelerators to establish these facilities quickly. This is a hugely exciting development for Scotland and the wider UK 5G ecosystem and we look forward to announcing more hubs in the near future.”