Scottish Government to Invest £4 Million to Aid 5G Deployment in Scotland

The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC) has announced the next phase of its S5GConnect Program which deals with the deployment of 5G in Scotland. Under the new stage, the Scottish government has announced funding support of £4 million, to accelerate the establishment of a national network of hubs which will support economic growth through the deployment and adoption of 5G services across the country.

The S5GConnect Programme will help bridge the gap between academia, industry and government bodies to accelerate 5G deployment and the adoption of 5G services to realize its economic and societal potential for Scotland, and enable businesses, organizations and people to reap the benefits of this new connectivity platform. The S5GC is working and collaborating to build on Scotland’s existing Innovation Centres and government initiatives to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery and address the digital gap that has been highlighted as key to ensuring Scotland’s business sectors, health care and education can thrive in the new economic environment

On the eve of the announcement, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity, and the Islands, at an online event, discussed plans to create a network of S5GConnect Hubs across Scotland as part of the Program for Government, to an audience of businesses, academic institutions, and public sector organisations with an interest in 5G.

The S5GConnect Hubs will promote innovation and investment, focusing on sectors relevant to their local areas. The Hubs will work with mobile operators and private network providers to accelerate regional 5G networks, offer a private network with advanced capabilities, as well as access to an accelerator facility and mentoring schemes.

To reflect the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the Scottish economy, the hubs will also provide specific support packages for small businesses. They will support SME engagement where they can develop, prototype and test real-world experiments and use cases over a 5G innovation platform, offer one-to-one consultancy and professional support to develop and scale businesses. Combined, the hubs will aim to enhance Scotland’s overall connectivity by building a national infrastructure, creating momentum that establishes the entire country as a global leader in 5G technologies.

According to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the 5G revolution presents a significant opportunity for Scotland in the years ahead, and seizing such opportunities is particularly important as they look to build the economic recovery following the lockdown required to suppress the COVID-19 virus. A study conducted by Deloitte in 2019 found that harnessing enhanced 4G and 5G connectivity could increase Scotland’s GDP by more than £17 billion by 2035. The Scottish Government’s investment of £4m through the S5GConnect Program will enhance and widen digital connectivity in all parts of the country because we believe that it is through deploying next-generation technologies that we can create something special for businesses, families, and communities.

The Forth Valley Hub, as the first of ten such hubs, will initially focus on the delivery of digital platforms that support job creation, skill programs, and innovation support for SME and R&D activities. Its first project will aim to develop a green data recovery platform, which will support Scotland’s net zero economy. Potential locations for nine additional hubs across Scotland are being considered with plans for further rollout over the course of 2020 and 2021.

According to Paul Coffey, CEO at The Scotland 5G Centre, the role of the Scotland 5G Centre is to act as a catalyst for bringing together industry, academia and the public sector and this program allows us to do that and are thus excited to begin working with industry partners from a variety of sectors on this initiative. The first hub will be located in Alloa, Clackmannanshire serving the wider Forth Valley region, and builds on a partnership between Scotland’s International Environment Centre, which is part of the University of Stirling, and BT, the telecoms group.

5G deployment has commenced, but the technology is still nascent – and some of the new use cases are still a few years away. The S5GConnect Hubs will play a key role in accelerating that process and making the potential of 5G a reality. They will think nationally, but act locally, bringing together global and national priorities with local expertise through the reach of existing regional centres and organizations.

Click here to learn more about the Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC).