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West Midlands to trial 5G high speed connectivity

Watch Chris Halpin's video news report on the 5G testbed below:

  • The West Midlands will be the first place in the UK to trial high speed 5G connectivity across multiple cities.
  • The hubs in Brmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton will pave the way for the future rollout of 5G across the UK.
  • Ideas for the trial include: connected ambulances where paramedics can live stream patient data to the hospital or seek expert advice via video link; intelligent cameras which react to incidents in public spaces; and futuristic autonomous vehicles.

This announcement is game-changing for the West Midlands economy. This will be the backbone of our future economy and society. The potential of this technology is endless - and we will enjoy the benefits first.

– Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor

What is 5G?

It stands for 5th generation of mobile networks - the first was of course 1G - which just allowed voice calls.

What does it do?

Much faster data download and upload speeds - some are saying as much as 100 times faster, wider coverage, and more stable connections.

What are the benefits?

It could open up new opportunities in:

  • Autonomous cars, which will need to be constantly connected to the internet
  • The Internet of Things devices - like smart fridges and lights
  • Virtual reality experiences
  • Drone transportation and monitoring
  • Industry - medical operations could be done from miles away via robots
Credit: Frank May/DPA/PA Images

The £75 million trial will be carried out in the health, construction and automotive sectors, with the aim of boosting economic growth and modernising public services.

Plans in the West Midlands include:

  • Hospital outpatient appointments and emergency consultations could be carried out remotely by video link without disrupted connections.
  • Connected ambulances - paramedics could access specialist advice while they are at the scene via video link and livestream patient data back to hospitals as they travel.
  • Live streaming of CCTV footage from public spaces like buses to identify potential incidents, from more places than at present.
  • Autonomous vehicle development.

From monitoring the health of babies and the elderly, to the way people are linked to the economy of the future, the way companies do business, the way we deliver public services, the experience of travellers on public transport and the way we deliver City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games - everything can be made better thanks to the power of this technology.

– Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor