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UK government seeks city to showcase 5G connectivity

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Signpost in YorkYork is the sort of city that could benefit from a 5G network thanks to its high concentration of tourist attactions. Photo: Jack Schofield

The British government plans to create a "5G city" as a testbed for the future rollout of 5G phone networks across the UK. But which city? That's up for grabs. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants to receive "expressions of interest" from cities that would like to be "the public sector partner" in the project. The deadline is June 5.

Industry participation will involve the new UK5G Innovation Network[1], which was launched on March 26[2].

Some money will be available. The DCMS says that "funding for the project will come from the £200 million assigned so far to develop 5G technologies as part of over £1bn investment in next-generation digital infrastructure." Note: that doesn't say the chosen city will actually get £200 million. That's just how much is held in that particular purse. The largest grant made so far was only £5 million.

One potential drawback is that the DCMS would prefer to hear from "large cities below 500,000 population but with very strong, clear digital leadership and vision". That eliminates London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and other go-ahead cities. However, potential candidates could include York, Brighton, Bristol, Bath and Norwich, as well as both Oxford and Cambridge.

The bid will need to include projects that show how 5G "can make urban communities inherently safer, greener, more efficient and more attractive places to live". The DCMS provides a few examples, such as real-time video consultation and remote treatment to improve healthcare, sensor-based traffic management to improve travel, and "revolutionising the way visitors experience tourist venues through the use of Augmented and

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