Coventry to be amongst the first to get a taste of 5G network

A 5G accelerator facility, comprising of demonstration space with access to cutting-edge 5G technology, both indoors and outdoors, is to be built in Coventry.

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Limited has awarded a major contract to a consortium led by Telefonica UK (O2) to build three 5G accelerators in the West Midlands, including one in Coventry.

WM5G is the organisation delivering the UK’s first region-wide 5G testbed, backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). 

Last week, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, hosted a live webinar during which WM5G, its consortium members and businesses from the region shared their exciting vision for a 5G future.

The 5G accelerator facility will comprise of a centrally-located office and demonstration space with access to cutting-edge 5G technology, both indoors and outdoors, extending several kilometres.  

The venue will have access to private 5G networks – enabling businesses and public sector organisations to experiment with 5G features that aren’t yet commercially released. This will be combined with the latest devices, professional advice and technical support. 

By using the 5G accelerators, businesses and public sector organisations will be able to experience a live 5G network, discover the benefits that 5G can bring to their organisation and work with innovators to take advantage of 5G through new applications and services. 

At least 2,000 private sector businesses and public sector organisations from across the West Midlands and beyond will be able to benefit from using the 5G accelerators over the next five years. 

WM5G and its consortium members are reviewing the precise nature of how they will launch these 5G accelerator facilities to businesses – including remote access options – in-line with the Government’s advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and more information is expected to be released shortly.

Unlike 5G R&D facilities, the 5G accelerators will be designed specifically to attract businesses and entrepreneurs to solve major problems and opportunities that can be commercially scaled when proven.  

Many events and engagement activities run at the 5G accelerators will be sponsored by technology companies or other major businesses, so that SMEs and other organisations can participate for free.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am delighted that the West Midlands is to be the first region in the UK to launch these cutting edge 5G innovation centres.

“These new centres will allow thousands of businesses and organisations across the region to experience 5G first-hand, and this will be a great advertisement for the West Midlands as we look to encourage more businesses to relocate here.”

Derek McManus, COO at O2, added: “O2 has championed 5G business innovation for a while now and we are incredibly pleased to have been awarded this contract.

“Being able to help businesses in the West Midlands realise the potential of 5G is a fantastic opportunity and something we are excited to bring our expertise to. Our own consortium – alongside our collaborators, Deloitte, Wayra and Digital Catapult – worked very hard to win this contract and we look forward to bringing this to life.”

Robert Franks, managing director at WM5G, added: “The West Midlands has a proud heritage leading the previous industrial revolution. Through the 5G accelerators that we’re launching in partnership with O2 and its consortium, our region is in prime position to lead the next industrial revolution.”