5G rollout in local areas given £40 million funding boost

The 5G funding could be used for drones that help farmers to inspect their crops from above (Joe Giddens/PA)
The 5G funding could be used for drones that help farmers to inspect their crops from above (Joe Giddens/PA)

Local authorities have been invited to apply for a share of a £40 million Government fund to help them roll out 5G wireless technology.

The funding is designed to help towns, cities and rural areas use advanced wireless connectivity to drive innovation in sectors including healthcare, agriculture and transport, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) said.

The technology could for example be used for sensors that improve air quality by better managing traffic, or 5G-enabled drones that can scan fields to help farmers check the condition of crops.

Faster and more reliable connectivity for residents and businesses would boost local economies and make public services more efficient.

It will also underpin the development of technologies of the future such as artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, according to DSIT.

Data and digital infrastructure minister Sir John Whittingdale said: “Greater adoption of 5G-powered technologies will help deliver more efficient public services, new opportunities for residents and businesses, and a boost for economic growth – and this new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.

“5G Innovation Regions will be uniquely positioned to benefit from breaking down barriers which hinder the rollout of such technologies at a local level and this initiative offers every community the chance to gain these opportunities.

“Improving connectivity through a world-class digital infrastructure is one of the core components of the Government’s plans to level up every community in the UK and I encourage local areas to apply and to be ambitious in their vision for reaping the rewards of 5G.”

The deadline for local authorities to apply is September 10, with the funding period due to kick off in November and run until March 2025.

Each successful project could receive up to £3.8 million in funding, according to DSIT.