Government boost to get rural communities better connected

Nicky Morgan, the Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched a £30 million UK-wide competition to see countryside communities better connected and help rural Britain seize the opportunities of 5G technology. The competition was launched as Ms Morgan announced a shake-up of planning laws to allow taller phone masts to be installed across the country.

Welcoming the news, Councillor James Airey, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale said: “This competition will really benefit many of the rural communities across South Lakeland and I would urge them to get involved to ensure we benefit from the Government’s commitment to get us all connected.”

Up to 10 rural locations will be chosen to run innovative trials of 5G applications and stimulate commercial investment in 5G technology which offers mobile speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations.

The Rural Connected Communities competition is the latest wave of £200 million funding to pioneer 5G testbeds across the country and deliver the benefits of the highest speeds of mobile connectivity available.

The 5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT), a partnership of SMEs and universities has been trialling the innovative use of 5G technology across a range of rural applications including smart agriculture, tourism and connecting poorly-served communities, using shared spectrum in the TV bands and a mix of local ISPs and self-provision.

The new funding will build on projects like these and trial other uses of 5G in rural communities to help drive business growth, enhance lives and encourage innovation.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “The British countryside has always been a hotbed of pioneering industries and we’re making sure our rural communities aren’t left behind in the digital age.

“We’re investing millions so the whole country can grasp the opportunities and economic benefits of next generation 5G technology.”

In modern Britain people expect to be connected wherever they are. But poorer connectivity in rural areas risks hampering economic growth and social mobility.”

To take part in the competition visit gov.uk/guidance/applying-for-the-5g-rural-connected-communities-project

The winning projects are expected to be announced before the end of the year.

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