The 5G market in the UK may have had a huge spanner thrown in its works with the impending removal of Huawei technology from the national infrastructure, but this has not stopped the UK’s first 5G application accelerator, 5PRING, from cranking into gear.
The UK’s first region-wide 5G testbed was set up by West Midlands 5G (WM5G) in March 2020 to benefit more than 2,000 businesses in the region. WM5G is backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). A consortium including Telefónica UK (O2), Deloitte, Wayra and Digital Catapult built the three 5G accelerators in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry which work under the 5PRING brand. Its mission is to engage more than 2,000 businesses, firmly putting the West Midlands on the map as leaders in 5G innovation.
Once fully operational, the three 5G accelerators will have centrally located office and demonstration spaces with access to 5G technology, both indoors and outdoors, extending several kilometres. Each venue will have access to private 5G networks, enabling businesses and public sector organisations in the respective areas to be able to experiment with 5G features that are not yet commercially released. This will be combined with 5G devices, professional advice and technical support.
By utilising 5PRING, organisations will be able to experience a live 5G network, discover the benefits the technology can bring to their business and work with innovators to take advantage of 5G through new applications and services.
As it sprung into life, 5PRING said that in spite of the government’s ongoing lockdown, the facilities were able to deliver 12 hours of content in a virtual event lasting over two days and took the form of a business-orientated training programme – and was delivered using a platform called Hopin.
WM5G believes that events such as the recent workshop will prove pivotal in connecting both supply and demand side businesses, allowing organisations – particularly start-ups and small businesses – to move along the journey of development with 5PRING, exploring 5G possibilities by using the facility first-hand.
The benefits 5G can provide businesses are unparalleled, said WM5G managing director Robert Franks. “Through 5PRING, we are providing everything innovators could possibly need to develop the next real-world applications for the technology,” he said. “Our experts are providing the necessary insights and guidance to help businesses develop solutions to real-life problems. This is the start of an incredibly exciting chapter for the West Midlands and is one that I’m sure will leave a lasting, digital legacy.”
Derek McManus, chief operating officer at O2, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the hard work that has gone into the 5PRING programme to date, and it’s great to see the first virtual workshops take place. O2 is committed to helping rebuild Britain by supporting businesses through the capabilities of 5G, and 5PRING is a perfect example of this ambition in action.”
“When 5PRING launched in March, the world was already changing to reflect the new normal. Since then, 5G and the critical role of technology to society has taken a whole new purpose and established even higher precedence,” said Bruno Moraes, country manager at Wayra UK.
“Wayra UK is delighted that through rigorous collaboration between our consortium members we designed a virtual event to ignite the programme. 5PRING helps develop a solid foundation for a prosperous future, both for Britain and the West Midlands.”
The next 5PRING event – a Covid-19 “Hackathon” programme – will run virtually for two weeks, culminating in a final “Demo Day” across July and August 2020.