Multi-million pound grant to unlock 5G potential in rural Wales

A collaborative project to be delivered by experts at Cardiff University is aiming to unlock the potential of 5G technology in rural Wales.

Connected Communities in the Rural Economy (CoCoRE) will bring together experts across the University along with Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent County Councils, Cisco, Utterberry, Cardiff City Deal, Innovation Point and Bristol University.

The project will assess how state-of-the-art technology can improve various aspects of life, from tackling rural isolation, to improving farm security and bolstering the tourism industry.

A 5m grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been matched from a range of project partners in the public and private sector.

Solving issues around transport, flexible working, inward investment and isolation will also help to improve the region’s competitive and social position, the team say.

5G has speeds up to ten times faster than 4G and will greatly increase mobile capacity across Wales, meaning more people will be able to get online and find and download the content they want, without slowdown.

But 5G is about more than a speedier internet connection. It uses technology that is far more advanced than that of our current mobile networks, and so could transform the way we interact with critical services - from energy and water, to transport and healthcare.

The availability of 5G also enables other types of key technologies to be realised - such as edge computing and analytics. Cybersecurity also remains a key challenge with the use of 5G, an aspect that will also investigated in this project.

5G technology will also drive the adoption of new application areas such as driverless cars, remote healthcare and the ‘smart’ devices we increasingly use in our homes and at work.

The project is part of 65 million investment from UK Government for 5G trials across the country, helping to spread the benefits of the technology and improve the lives of people in rural areas.

The project, which is hoped to be part of a much larger programme of work on 5G in Wales, will run until March 2022 and will involve academics from Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, School of Geography and Planning, School of Mathematics and the Data Innovation Research Institute.

Professor Peter Madden OBE, from Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning, said: "5G technology has the potential to improve the lives of people in rural areas. We’re really pleased that Cardiff University, has been able to help secure this funding, so that we can explore the benefits that this technology could bring to people living across south east Wales.”

Professor Omer Rana, from the School of Computer Science and Informatics, said: "This funding and the collaborative working it will enable will help keep Cardiff University and Wales at the forefront of this exciting new technology, where we develop innovative and state-of-the-art solutions to the problems that our rural communities face.”

Professor Paul Harper, Director of the Data Innovation Research Institute and based at the School of Mathematics, said: "This programme of work has been developed in close collaboration with rural communities so that we can understand their needs and work together on potential innovations so that we can benefit from the best of what the new 5G technology has to offer."

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “The UK Government is committed to eliminating the difference in connection between urban and rural areas whilst exploring innovative ways to use 5G technology to develop emerging industries, supporting our rural economy in Wales.

“Today’s announcement is a great opportunity for rural parts of Wales to boost the productivity and capacity of their digital infrastructure and forms a key part of our plans to build a UK which is fit for the future.”

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