The Daily Echo has reported that BOURNEMOUTH residents could see one of the UK’s earliest 5G networks in place by 2020.
The borough has in recent months been the test bed for a mapping tool developed alongside Ordnance Survey, as its topography is suitably varied for a trial.
The 5G, or fifth generation mobile network, technology promises speeds as much as 100 times faster than 4G, although it is subject to a number of limitations.
Its signal is blocked by buildings, trees or even the weather, so transmission will require producing large quantities of ‘cells’ to carry the signal around the town, and new gigabit fibre-optics to improve internet speeds indoors.
Bournemouth council digital economy manager Ruth Spencer said the tech, currently earmarked for launch in the Lansdowne area alongside its planned revamp and transformation into a business centre, could prove revolutionary.
“This is a massive step change in terms of connectivity,” she said.
“It is not just about mobile speeds but about machine to machine connections, connecting things to the internet.
“It is an opportunity to unlock a huge amount in terms of economic benefits and productivity.”
She said technologies expected to benefit particularly from the upgrade include augmented reality and robotics, including in manufacturing and medical uses.
The council will be able to monitor the town using a network of sensors, potentially reducing the need for officer visits and increasing efficiency.
“We are waiting for devices to evolve to be able to take that data,” said Ms Spencer.
“In the meantime the Government is setting up test beds to trial 5G. With the mapping work we have done we are in a good position.”
The council also plans to investigate the possibility of driverless transport in the Lansdowne area, a technology which 5G is expected to expand.
However, Ms Spencer said such developments were “at a very early stage here and across the UK”.
If 5G proves successful it is expected to attract digital businesses to boost the sector’s already lively growth in the town.
“We would hope to attract many more tech companies to the area,” said Ms Spencer.
“And this will give them an advantage and an opportunity to experiment.”
The technology was demonstrated at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this year, used to run systems which act quickly to ward animals away from the courses.
Russia announced it is working on a 5G demonstration at the FIFA World Cup, which starts on June 14.