A look into the Rural Connected Communities Project

1 Jul 2019 02:22 PM

Key insights and considerations from the DCMS workshops that focused on the upcoming project with the aim of building the business case for rural mobile connectivity...

Over the course of June, DCMS held five workshops across the UK to help define what the Rural Connected Communities project will involve and how this project can be most effective.

Over the previous year we have seen six successful testbeds through the 5G Testbeds and Trials programme that explored the benefits and challenges of deploying 5G technologies. Along with this programme, the Urban Connected Communities project helped inform the development of policy and regulation to support 5G deployment, choosing the West Midlands to develop a large-scale 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

DCMS stated that the UK was the 54th country to launch 4G (back in 2012) but we have increased our position in 5G, being the 5th country to launch the new network.

Though we have seen successful deployments and examples in the UCC, Government are now focusing on the rural areas. The current state of play shows that rural connectivity is still behind urban:

With increasing reliance on connectivity, network availability and reliability are becoming even more important – otherwise there is a growing urban/rural divide.

DCMS also explained the barriers to rural deployment, ranging from historic reasons, sites in rural areas and the focus on MNO’s:

Historic reasons:

Building and maintaining sites in rural areas:

Mobile Network Operators:

Project Objectives

DCMS then shared the RCC project objectives for those potential bidders:

Government also expect the projects to:

Where? Areas for testbeds and trials

Who? Bidding Consortia

DCMS would like to see a wide range of possible solutions, given the variety of rural locations, topologies and challenges.

Bidding consortia can be led by (and include):

Subject to the outcome of these workshops, the aim for DCMS is to launch an 8-week competition in the summer and projects are to mobilise this calendar year. Funding for the project will also be available until March 2022.

More details of the consortia and bidding expectations will be circulated soon. However, the above provides an insight into what Government are looking for when companies are considering bidding for the project. techUK looks forward to finding out more about the project and welcomes the ongoing support by the Government to help ensure the UK is a 5G leader.