As with all technology, mobile phone networks continue to be upgraded as innovation leads to new and improved ways to look at existing infrastructures. 3G was seen as a relatively modest jump for mobile carriers, and 4G expanded the capabilities significantly. 5G is now emerging and is expected to be so much more than just another carrier solution. The Liverpool 5G Consortium out of the UK is showing how robust the network can be, and has been given a grant of £4.3 million ($5.62 million) to further its efforts.
Liverpool 5G describes itself as a “unique and innovative consortium of public sector health and social care suppliers, the NHS, university researchers, third sector organisations, agile local SMEs and a leading UK 5G technology vendor, who came together to deliver the DCMS-funded Liverpool 5G Testbed.” It was given the funding through a larger project that is designed to support health and social care technologies, a competition set up by the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS). The DCMS has launched its 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, which hopes to encourage 5G innovation on a number of levels that have never before been possible.
The Create: Connecting Health and Social Care initiative launched by Liverpool 5G explores the use of 5G technology, which has download speeds of up to ten gigabits per second, to develop a private and independent network that will be used in health and social care applications in certain areas of Liverpool. It is being designed to operate as a test of the network’s capabilities and is expected to provide free and accessible connectivity to a number of health, social care and education services. If the project goes as planned, it could eventually be rolled out on a much larger scale.
The consortium is being led by the University of Liverpool. Joe Spencer, a professor in the school’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, explains, “This is a great opportunity to build on our previous testbed and develop the British technology that can change people’s lives by enabling affordable connectivity and reducing digital poverty.”
The project will be in place until March 22 and is expected to provide a blueprint for how private 5G networks might be used to facilitate the delivery of public networks. That blueprint could then be rolled out to other entities, eager to capitalize on the bandwidth capabilities and options the network can provide. In addition to the University of Liverpool, the consortium includes Liverpool City Council, Blu Wireless Technology Ltd, Broadway Partners Ltd, Liverpool John Moores University, CGA Simulation Ltd, Docobo Ltd, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust.
Matt Warman, the UK Digital Infrastructure Minister, adds of the endeavor, “5G is not just about having a faster mobile phone, so we’re funding groundbreaking projects across the UK to explore other ways in which the revolutionary technology can make people’s lives better. Coronavirus requires us to look at new ways to provide healthcare remotely to the most vulnerable and I’m delighted to commit further funding to Liverpool’s successful 5G trial working on this issue.”
There’s little doubt that the project will have the success all partners expect. 5G has already begun to be introduced in other areas around the globe and is proving to be lightyears ahead of 4G technology. Eventually, it will be seen everywhere, and can even help extremely remote and rural areas gain access to much-needed data solutions that have never been accessible to them.