The West Midlands has been selected as the UK’s first 5G area in a “testbed” experiment, which will evaluate this technology ahead of a national rollout.
High-speed mobile internet is expected to revolutionise healthcare and public transport across the region, with Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton set to receive up to £75m of public investment to establish 5G coverage.
Digital Minister Margot James said the new technology, which will be focussed on the health, construction and automotive sectors, would “transform” daily life with several 5G tech projects earmarked to start in 2019.
Some of the innovative uses for 5G include the provision of specialist advice to ambulance paramedics via live video streaming. This technology has also been proposed for emergency consultations for hospital outpatients as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) feels this would provide greater convenience, allowing patients to watch back their appointments.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is also planning to collaborate with car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover to develop driverless cars, which will transform the way we travel. It is expected that 5G technology will be instrumental in optimising traffic flow and reducing accidents for public transport.
Another proposed application is the live streaming of CCTV footage from buses to help police to crack down on anti-social behaviour.
Speaking to the BBC, West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor Andy Street called the prospect of 5G technology “game-changing” commenting: “The potential of this technology is endless. This will be the backbone of our future economy and society.”
Further to an auction held in April this year, Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three were all awarded the bandwidth required for the future 5G mobile internet services. However, this is not expected to be roll out widely to mobile users before 2020.