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5g and full-fibre at full force.

Government Backing for 5G Continues

Through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the UK government is continuing its support for 5G throughout the country. In order to be globally competitive, UK industry needs the technology that will allow it to match the performance of countries such as South Korea, where 5G has been available in almost all of the country since 2019, and the other leading tech powers the USA and China.

The DCMS's 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme (5GTT) will target those areas of our economy where we are already major players, such as scientific research, engineering and tech businesses. The programme aims to accelerate the implementation of 5G networks so that UK businesses can take advantage of the many new applications that those networks will deliver. With no comprehensive 5G rollout and just a piecemeal arrangement, industry risks losing out. A successful 5G programme will allow businesses to maximise productivity and efficiency as well as creating new opportunities and attracting much needed inward investment.

In 2018, the programme's 5GUK Test Networks built three integrated testbeds at the University of Surrey, King's College London and the University of Bristol, creating the UK's first end-to-end 5G network. Several projects emerged from this to run trials of 69 technologies and applications.

The work of the Liverpool 5G project resulted in the creation of the UK's largest 5G mmWave mesh network, a private network designed to enable the testing of new healthcare applications. This is the second largest network of its kind in the world.

Musicians in London and Bristol were connected by the University of Bristol's Smart Internet Lab to take part in the world's first 5G music lesson. This was made possible by the low latency capabilities of 5G.

These are just two examples of the successes 5GTT has had so far. Eight projects have been completed while 30 more are underway in 34 counties across 13 regions of the UK. More than 200 project partners are involved and the programme is accelerating development in key sectors including automotive, utilities, agriculture transport and logistics.


There's Something in the Water

In April of 2022, the DCMS announced innovative plans to deploy full-fibre broadband by using the drinking water mains infrastructure. A trial between Barnsley and Penistone will see cables laid along 17 kilometres of water pipes with the aim of connecting as many as 8,500 homes and businesses to fast broadband.

Using the existing pipes avoids the time-consuming, disruptive and costly practice of digging up roads and broadband providers can then link into the network to deliver gigabit-capable connections. Known as 'Fibre in Water', the scheme pioneers the next-gen technology of a greener, faster and more cost-effective means of taking fibre optic cables into buildings and mobile masts in the more remote parts of the country.

5G masts will be used to connect homes and businesses which it is commercially unviable to reach.

An additional benefit of the scheme is the potential of fibre to detect leaks - currently running at a national rate of 20 per cent - and thus save waste and money. If the technology performs well during the trial, it could be operational from 2024.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: "Digging up roads and land is one of the biggest obstacles to rolling out faster broadband, so we're exploring how we can make use of the existing water network to accelerate deployment and help detect and minimise water leaks. We're committed to getting homes and businesses across the country connected to better broadband and this cutting-edge project is an exciting example of the bold measures this government is leading on to level up communities with the very best digital connectivity."

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