West Midlands wins £500K to boost region’s 5G connectivity

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The West Midlands Combined Authority has successfully secured more than £500,000 from a new £4 million government fund to further boost future connectivity in the region.

The Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) Pilot funding will be used to map out the region’s publicly owned assets such as buildings, land and street furniture that is capable of housing mobile infrastructure.

5G technology is seen as a key element in levelling up the region, after being selected by the government in 2018 to be the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed.

The regionwide project, which involves the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the WMCA and WM5G, has been accelerating the 5G network and the West Midlands has now become the UK’s best-connected region for 5G.

Advanced wireless networks such as 5G will require a significantly greater amount of network infrastructure.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “DCMS awarding us a share of the £4m from their Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator is further confirmation of our status as a 5G pioneer.

“Now we will get to work on testing an interactive map and marketplace solution to automate key elements of the process of 5G deployment, accelerating delivery and rollout, bringing efficiencies to both operators and local authorities. This will help to drive forward new technology and innovations for the maximum benefit of citizens and businesses in our region.”

Robert Franks, Managing Director at WM5G, said: “This pilot will help us accelerate the levelling-up the region through faster and more widespread deployment of 5G, aligning to the strategic objectives of the WMCA, and ambitions of the region’s Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.”

The region is already the first to produce a Connected Map, through WM5G. More than 400,000 assets have been mapped to-date along with the creation of simplified processes and standardised agreements for mobile network rollout and site upgrades. This has already allowed quicker access to assets, reducing deployment timeframes by 6 months.