Stadiums and tourism hotspots to test new 5G networks in £88 million scheme

The locations for the trials include urban centres, sporting and entertainment venues and seaside resorts (PA)
The locations for the trials include urban centres, sporting and entertainment venues and seaside resorts (PA)

A range of sporting venues and tourism hotspots across the UK are to be the settings for trials of new types of 5G mobile technology as part of an £88 million Government scheme.

Nineteen projects and locations from around the country will host trials of Open RAN mobile tech, which enables different network providers’ equipment to work together to boost mobile coverage, rather than each only working with their own.

The locations for the trials include urban centres in Glasgow, Cambridge, Liverpool, Bath, and the City of London, sporting and entertainment venues such as the Principality Stadium in Cardiff and Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, as well as the seaside resorts of Blackpool and Worthing.

The projects have been chosen via the Government’s Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) Competition, which has looked for schemes to demonstrate new ways of building fast, dependable mobile networks in busy places.

Data and digital infrastructure minister Sir John Whittingdale said: “Whether you’re in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business.

“In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network.

“The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in Government research and development investment will use innovative Open RAN solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come.”

The UK’s major mobile network operators – BT/EE, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone – have endorsed the Government’s plans around more open mobile networks as a way of boosting infrastructure resilience as well as competition.

Hamish MacLeod, chief executive of industry body Mobile UK, said: “The development of open and interoperable RAN solutions is important to the UK’s mobile industry.

“This announcement highlights Mobile UK’s member operators’ ongoing R&D trial and deployment programmes, helping progress solutions to realise ambitions to grow traffic over open RAN architecture.”