‘We are delighted to be celebrating the Centre’s first anniversary. It’s been a busy and productive year and we are all very proud of the progress that’s been made. We’ve put the Centre firmly on the map and the team have been working hard to create partnerships, develop collaborative projects and ensure we take a lead role in accelerating the roll-out of 5G across Scotland.
Of course, 2020 has been particularly challenging in terms of dealing with the pandemic, but it has also served to highlight our critical dependency on digital technology and connectivity. Virtually overnight, many workers migrated from city centre working to suburban homes, and boundaries blurred between home and office. The pandemic has also highlighted the growing digital divide between those who have access to fast, reliable telecoms and those who are less fortunate, suffering from poor connectivity with limited access to increasingly vital public information and services.
The impact on the most vulnerable in our society has reinforced that 5G is not just a nice-to-have but is absolutely critical as we look to build the economy post Covid-19.
The Scotland 5G Centre is working at a national level, so is perfectly placed to stimulate economic development and promote the benefits of 5G connectivity. September saw our announcement to launch a national network of 5G innovation hubs (#S5GConnect), accelerating digital connectivity and regional economic growth; and equipping businesses and citizens of Scotland with the skills they need to use 5G technology as an enabler for the good of their business.
Our plans are progressing well. We intend to have our first three hubs open in the first half of 2021. I’m delighted with the feedback we have received on our plans; indeed, the level of engagement from businesses and organisations wishing to collaborate with the Centre to support the S5GConnect hub programme is extremely encouraging.
We have several other live projects, spearheaded by our three founding partners. Like many other organisations, progress has been hampered by Covid-19 restrictions, but the teams have been adaptable, going the extra mile by installing equipment in their homes to mitigate the impact to timelines. As a result of their efforts, all three programmes have made significant progress and, by early next year, will be back on track.
The projects are:
- A rural testbed at the University of Strathclyde is deploying a neutral host 5G network using shared spectrum and will develop the business case to support substantial and lasting improvements in fast, reliable connectivity in rural areas.
- An urban innovation district at the University of Glasgow will deliver a scalable platform to enable testing of 5G use cases and network techniques in an urban context.
- Infralink, an infrastructure project led by Scottish Futures Trust, is creating a national asset register and redefining best practice to facilitate and accelerate infrastructure deployment for the mobile industry.
These projects are at the heart of the Centre’s establishment and I’m really excited to track their development and of course see the results!
5G will transform how we communicate in all walks of life. I’m really proud of the impact and progress the Centre has made over 12 challenging months. Equally, I’m in no doubt about the difference the Centre will make to Scotland and I feel incredibly positive about the year ahead.
Watch this space for some exciting progress and announcements in the next few months. Our programmes will be sharing use case outcomes and enabling Scotland 5G future.