Scotland 5G Centre opens for business

The Dumfries-based Innovation Hub has gone live, and is set to make 5G testing accessible for a wide range of firms across the region

The Scotland 5G Centre has announced the opening of live 5G private networks to showcase, innovate and test 5G ideas, starting with its first rural hub in Dumfries, Scotland.

Demos will include a live holographic display transmitting real-time 3D images to advance the ability to manage remote healthcare needs.

A partnership between the University of Strathclyde – which hosts the Centre in the Glasgow City Innovation District  – and Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Scotland, was set up in October 2019 as the national hub for accelerating the deployment and adoption of 5G.

The facility – the third of its kind following the establishment of hubs in Forth Valley and Dundee – is part of S5GConnect, a programme designed to deliver the Scottish government’s 5G Strategy through a network of hubs to help establish Scotland as a leading 5G nation, providing a platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs and corporates to explore the benefits of enhanced connectivity.

The Centre is intended to enable all types of businesses to reap the benefits of next-generation network technology. It will allow businesses of all sizes and stages to visit the hubs and experience 5G first-hand. Live test beds opening across the regions will allow the S5GConnect programme to accelerate the adoption of 5G across the country with advanced digital connectivity supporting new opportunities and economic progress through innovation.

The doors of the first rural live 5G network will open for business at the Scotland 5G Centre hub at the Crichton Centre in Dumfries, in a new, digitally enabled collaborative centre for learning and rural innovation serving the South of Scotland.

The centre’s partners say the development demonstrates the Centre’s commitment to introducing new ways of connecting people and places to support the levelling up of the digital divide. The live network will offer demonstrations of 5G capability, as well the chance for others to test their own products and services.

Read more about 5G in Scotland

Applications on display will include communication through large format holograms to allow users to feel physically present with another person in a different location. This so-called “holoportation” will demonstrate the opportunities for remote healthcare through a live, immersive and interactive conversation with a clinician in London. It is said to be able to showcase the next level of telepresence for healthcare, business meetings and education across borders.  

A “5G in a box” solution is designed to demonstrate a solution for rural areas with poor coverage, providing what it claimed to be “true” end-to-end 5G network capability. The partners say that visitors will appreciate the benefits that 5G can enable. A “smart tourism” application aims to take tourism up a gear by using augmented reality, and will allow visitors to be transported to Cambridge to admire the King’s College Cathedral ceiling mural. A mixed reality experience of a life-size Stonehenge will provide an immersive experience.  

The partners say that fundamentally the hub networks set up by the Scotland 5G Centre go towards placing an advanced digital connectivity within existing communities to build and collaborate on existing partnerships. The centre will be closely followed by Forth Valley in the central belt going live next month.

“It’s an exciting day as our first 5G network goes live in our rural Connect Hub – creating real opportunities for the investment and use of this transformational technology,” said Paul Coffey, chief executive officer of the Scotland 5G Centre.

“Our S5GConnect Programme is here to lead the way, a platform for innovation and to accelerate the roll-out of digital connectivity by collaborating with the local businesses, academic institutions and partners. Scotland is uniquely placed to take advantage of 5G,” he said. “We are creating opportunities for investors and mobile operators to link with a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, farming and healthcare. This will in turn lead to scaling up and commercialisation to create new skills and jobs, and will make a positive and real difference to Scotland’s economy.”

Lara Moloney, head of S5GConnect, added: “As the first physical 5G live network to open as part of the S5GConnect programme, we are excited to open the doors to SMEs and leaders who are keen to innovate in their business.

“Providing an environment to test and trial 5G marks an important step forward as we work with businesses and network operators to adopt 5G in Scotland. Our innovation hubs create an opportunity for partnership and collaboration, allowing businesses from startups to established industries to learn how to utilise 5G and use it to their competitive advantage. We have engaged with over 300 businesses in the last four months alone, and are looking forward to supporting industry further.”

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