Paving the Way for the Fifth and possibly the Final “G” in Bristol and Bath

Paving the Way for the Fifth and possibly the Final “G” in Bristol and Bath

Nearly 40 years ago 1G, the first generation of commercially automated cellular networks, launched in Tokyo. It is the UK and Bristol and Bath that are now set to grab the Telecomm world’s attention by launching an innovative 5G test network.

The West of England Combined Authority has secured £5 million funding from the Government Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport to test and prove the advanced capabilities of 5G Networks. The trial will see 5G infrastructure put in place at the Roman Baths in Bath, M Shed and in and around We The Curious and Millennium Square in Bristol.

“Our aim is to add a new layer to the world class experiences that tourists to Bristol and Bath already receive” explains Stephen Hilton, Director of Bristol Futures Global, who supported University of Bristol and the West of England Combined Authority to deliver the winning bid. “This means exploring how the advanced speeds and reliability of 5G can be used to deliver very high quality, creative content to visitors’ mobile devices.”

The West of England Mayor is backing the project, “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.”

5G represents a significant opportunity for the UK and the West of England’s economy. Guided by the visionary work of pioneers such as University of Bristol’s Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, 5G is set to be the largest step forward for mobile network technology yet, offering much faster speeds than 4G and more reliability for both people and objects.

Some experts suggest that 5G will be the final generation of mobile networks. “This makes Bristol and Bath’s contribution to 5G development even more significant” Hilton notes.

Another aspect of the project is how 5G can help ensure the safety of visitors by better managing the telecoms and data networks during emergency incidents and through making greater use of sensors and the Internet of Things. This builds on Bristol’s position as a leading Smart City.

The 5G Smart Tourism project brings together a partnership of 25 organisations, led by the West of England Combined Authority. It is a diverse, high profile and highly skilled consortium including 5G network and 5G service providers (Zeetta, BT, CCS, Inter Digital, Bristol is Open) through to tourism and business support organisations (Destination Bristol and Business West), visitor destinations (The Roman Baths, The Gromit Trail, MShed), tech hubs (Digital Catapult, Bristol VR Lab), SMEs and large businesses (IBI Group, Smartify, Landmark, 3Sixty, Bristol Futures Global, Mo-Sys), research bodies (University of Bristol, Kings College, London), world-class media and content companies (BBC, Aardman) and public sector partners Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bristol City Council. It will start in April 2018.