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Birmingham and West Midlands will get 5G mobile network first

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5G mobile technology is heading to the West Midlands first. After an intense round of competing for the Government funding, it was announced today that Birmingham and the West Midlands have been selected to trial the new technology – all backed up by a £150 million investment to implement and test the network.  

5G will offer increased speed, better reliability and decrease the amount of ‘drops’ that the average user experiences, with experts comparing the connection to that of home fibre broadband.

Its industrial applications are just as wide-ranging, offering the opportunity to help develop new tech such as driverless cars and augmented/virtual reality. Health services will also benefit, with 5G helping assist health visitors that are performing medical checks while at a patient’s home and providing paramedics with specialist advice while travelling to or at the scene of an emergency.

Birmingham Mayor Andy Street said: “This was a must-win competition and by coming together as a region we persuaded the Government that we should be that test-bed.

“From monitoring the health of babies and the elderly to the way our people are linked to the economy of the future, the way companies do business, the way we deliver public services, the experience of travellers on public transport and the way we deliver the City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games – everything can be made better thanks to the power of this technology.”

Birmingham and the wider West Midlands was chosen because of the sheer amount of benefits 5G could have for the region. As a leader in the driverless car industry, having a reliable 5G connection will be huge in progressing the technology throughout the West Midlands. Similarly, with the development of HS2, the Commonwealth Games fast approaching and Coventry being chosen as the City of Culture for 2021, it makes sense to capitalise on these successes with the network trial.

As the first mobile devices capable of utilising 5G launch next year, the West Midlands will be in a great position to take advantage.

The network test will be rolled out over several phases. The Government will provide £50 million over two periods, combined with £25 million from the West Midlands Combined Authority that will be matched by an investment from mobile firms.

This project is part of a wider national scheme to develop 5G by the Government, which has so far seen £1.2 billion invested.

Although new smartphones will be capable of using 5G during 2019, the technology may take several years before it becomes the standard. This is partly due to the nature of 5G itself.

Whereas 4G was simply an upgrade of the previous 3G, this new fifth iteration represents entirely new technology, which will take longer to roll out. Networks are looking to prioritise busy city centres, rail stations and stadiums before rolling out further afield.

So what is 5G technology?

Mobile internet (or data) that is much fast than current speeds. It is more comparable to fibre broadband.

Thousands of users can connect at the same time without suffering from slow down or ‘drop outs’.

It uses less power to maintain the signal, ensuring longer battery life for mobile devices.

Offers a much more reliable connection at a lower cost – ideal for industrial services and consumers alike.

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