West Midlands chosen as 5G test area

Pepper robot with screen advertising 5G logo West Midlands chosen as 5G test area West Midlands chosen as 5G test area ba6626141fImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption 5G is expected to provide much faster connections

High-speed mobile internet is expected to revolutionise healthcare and public transport in a “testbed” region of the UK.

The West Midlands has been chosen as the UK’s first 5G area, testing the technology before a national rollout.

Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton will receive up to £75m of public investment to develop 5G coverage.

Plans for 5G include using live video streaming to provide specialist advice to ambulance paramedics.

Digital Minister Margot James said the new technology would “transform” daily life.

Technology projects using 5G are expected to begin early next year, with the focus in the West Midlands on health, construction and automotive sectors.

Further to plans for video links in ambulances, there are also plans for emergency consultations for hospital outpatients to be carried out remotely online too.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) said this will be more convenient for patients and will allow them to watch back appointments.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Driverless cars will be able to “talk” to each other and traffic management systems

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will also work with car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover to develop driverless cars and autonomous vehicles, which it said will “transform the way we travel”.

It is hoped 5G technology will improve traffic flow and reduce accidents for public transport.

There are also plans to live stream CCTV footage from buses to enable police to work more quickly to stop anti-social behaviour.

“The potential of this technology is endless,” West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor Andy Street said, calling it “game-changing”.

“This will be the backbone of our future economy and society,” he said.

Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services at an auction in April, but it is not expected to roll out widely to mobiles before 2020.

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