Could 5G be one answer to Shetland’s many connectivity issues?
Paul highlights the potential of 5G in his article first published in The Shetland News.
THE SCOTLAND 5G Centre is looking to hear from local companies interested in exploring opportunities to use the technology even without a dedicated network supplied by a commercial mobile operator.
Set up two years ago as the national centre to promote and accelerate the deployment of 5G technologies across the country, the organisation is also looking at new ways to connect Scotland’s rural areas.
As such the centre is hosting a webinar next Tuesday in an attempt to bridge the digital divide by Unlocking the power of 5G in our rural areas.
The centre’s chief executive Paul Coffey said the webinar is one in a series of events “where we can bring people in to talk about the opportunities that 5G could create”.
Coffey said 5G is “so much more than a consumer offering”, it has the potential to “revolutionise how businesses access and consume digital services”.
It is the successor to 4G mobile data and it is said to provide average speeds of 100Mbps-200Mbps in the UK, although this varies by network and area.
It is not publicly available in Shetland yet, although a private network trial is being carried out by a construction firm involved in the transmission link project.
Coffey said creating “your own private 5G network” through neutral host technology would enable rural businesses to benefit from all the advantages that 5G connectivity could bring.
Speaking to Shetland News earlier this week Coffey was exploring what setting up these private networks could mean for rural businesses such as the salmon farming industry, which is often working in areas with poor or no connectivity.
“Through a private network you could create a base level that is used for communication, you can also use that for monitoring,” he said.
“Some of that could also be done by 4G, but 5G can use facilitate high definition underwater cameras looking at the fish stock, doing counts and detected diseases, for example.
“Through remote sensing and analysis you could get a different insight that would give you a level of information that fish farmers don’t have to date, increasing productivity, efficiency and safety.”
He said creating private 5G networks at “relatively low cost” could help transform how rural communities and businesses operate.
The technology could be deployed in schools, healthcare and many other sectors, he said.
“We would like to do something real. We are looking for opportunities in rural areas, so if there is something there where we could leverage we are keen to explore that further”, Coffey said.