UK government investing £65m for rural communities and creative industries

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The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has detailed how it will allocate £65 million of the £200 million it has pledged to the development of 5G networks and applications.

Nine projects have been awarded a share of £35 million after their proposals were selected as winners of an open competition to see how 5G could help rural communities and manufacturing.

Previous competitions have awarded funding to see how 5G can aid individual industries, public services, and emerging fields such as connected cars.

Government 5G funding

Seven of the projects are rural based, with most looking at how 5G can improve the local economy and connectivity in areas with poor mobile coverage. Some will test small cell technologies, while others will see how recent Ofcom regulations governing shared spectrum can be used in practice.

One of the projects, 5G New Thinking, will see Cisco and others apply learnings from the 5GRural First initiative in Orkney, Somerset and Shropshire.

Another one of the initiatives will see 5G power Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR & VR) applications for tourists in Sherwood Forest, while other use cases include air and sea rescue services and environmental monitoring. A total of £5 million has been awarded to two industrial projects to see how 5G can boost productivity in the manufacturing sector.

The government has also launched a new £30 million competition for the creative industries. Applications are being urged from the film, television, video game and tourism sectors.

“We're determined to make the UK a world-leader in 5G and deliver on our promise to improve connections for people and businesses across the country,” said newly-appointed digital secretary Oliver Dowden.

“Today we’re announcing new funding to seize the new opportunities this technology will offer us. This includes seeing how it could create new jobs in the countryside, make businesses more productive and unleash even more ideas in our cutting-edge creative industries.”

The UK had hoped its startup ecosystem would ensure it played a key leadership role in the development of 5G and these ambitions have been strengthened by the commercial launch of four 5G networks. Three became the final mobile operator to switch its on 5G mobile services last week.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.