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13 Mar 2018
Tourism focus as government trials 5G in Britain
By Tom Anstey
Tourism focus as government trials 5G in Britain
5G technology offers potential benefits to British tourism

Tourism is at the forefront of a new government initiative to bring 5G to the UK, with six projects established in an attempt to accelerate the rollout of the wireless networking technology in Britain.

As of last year, development of 5G is being led by several companies, including Samsung, Intel, Qualcomm, Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson and ZTE, with a worldwide commercial rollout expected by 2020.

Focusing on the corporate and industrial applications of 5G, and the boosting of connectivity for rural communities in Britain, the government has awarded a combined total of £25m (US$34.7m, €28.1m) to six 5G testbed projects.

Among them is the 5G Smart Tourism plan, which will see the West of England Combined Authority teaming up with the BBC and Aardman Animations, to provide augmented and virtual reality experiences to tourists in Bath and Bristol.

The £5m (US$6.9m, €5.6m) project will build upon the 5G network already developed by the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab, through earlier DCMS funding, to establish experimentation capabilities for digital innovation.

As part of the trial, 5G internet will be installed at the Roman Baths in Bath, while in Bristol the technology will be installed at the M Shed museum, the We The Curious science centre and Millennium Square.

“Imagine a virtual Roman soldier showing you around the Roman Baths,” said West of England mayor, Tim Bowles. “Now imagine this moving 360 degrees on your mobile phone at a resolution you have never experienced before - that’s what 5G technology can offer.

“The 5G Smart Tourism bid will allow us to trial some exciting technology at our top tourist attractions, whilst looking at wider and longer-term benefits for our region. This new technology holds the key to a more advanced, sustainable and smart future which will revolutionise the way we all live, travel and work.”

Benefitting local tourism, internet service provider Quickline Communications is also trialling 5G in rural locations, collecting data to assess benefits for tourism, agriculture and connectivity in poorly-served communities. Also looking at rural communities, Cisco Systems is partnering with the University of Strathclyde to trial the technology with rural communities and industries, including agriculture and tourism.

“One year on from the digital strategy, we are delivering on our commitments to create a Britain fit for the future, with a thriving digital economy that works for everyone,” said Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries.

“The ground-breaking projects announced today will help to unlock 5G and ensure the benefits of this new technology are felt across the economy and wider society.”

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