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Brighton Dome theatre gets access to city’s 5G mobile testbed

Brighton Dome & Festival is to deploy a 5G network to explore future applications for the technology in the arts

Brighton’s trial 5G network is to be extended to the city’s Dome theatre – the scene of ABBA’s 1974 Eurovision Song Contest victory – ahead of the annual Brighton Festival, becoming one of the first performance, arts and cultural venues in the country to be equipped with 5G-ready technology.

Although it does not provide live consumer services yet, Brighton’s 5G trial network was initially set up in early 2018 using £1.2m of investment from Coast to Capital, the city’s local enterprise partnership (LEP), and £270,000 from Digital Catapult.

The testbed network has already been used extensively to explore applications in the creative and performing arts industries, with a particular focus on augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), and over the next 12 months, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival will explore and develop new ideas for how to implement and integrate 5G technology into the arts.

This could be, for example, by providing live streaming, improving accessibility to the arts for disabled people, or enabling audience engagement and interaction with artists and performers.

“For artists, 5G has the potential to offer a new set of tools to do things we have always dreamt about or dream up new things we could never have imagined. It provides us with new questions to explore and new forms of expression to examine those questions,” said Tristan Sharps, artistic director of local performance company dreamthinkspeak, and an associate artist of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival.

“Whether we create large-scale projects with progressive technologies, or intimate pieces on a bare stage in torchlight, 5G will change how our artistic work is made, seen and circulated. It will give artists and audiences a thrilling opportunity to engage with our rapidly changing world,” he said.

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival chief executive Andrew Comben said it would be one of the first arts venues in the country to explore the potential of 5G technology in the application of new artistic work and performance.

“Not only will it offer artists the chance to create exciting new work, but our audiences and visitors to Brighton will be able to enjoy and experience arts events in a completely different way. We’re excited by the endless possibilities this could bring,” he added.

To begin with, the network is being deployed in the venue’s Founder’s Room and Foyer, and will offer local businesses, community groups and artists the opportunity to test and develop 5G applications.

“5G is expected to be rolled out across the UK later this year, but we’re still very much in the black and white television era of this technology. To be in with a chance of entering technicolour, we need to test the network’s capabilities and enable businesses and users to prepare for the opportunity it presents,” said Digital Catapult CEO Jeremy Silver.

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