A ‘pop-up’ hub demonstrating next generation mobile connectivity has been deployed to a campus facility in the Highlands.

The Scotland 5G Centre’s first network service is delivering access to advanced connectivity technology in towns and communities in the Highlands and Islands. 

The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC), funded by the Scottish Government, is the national centre for accelerating the deployment and adoption of 5G in Scotland. This is the sixth innovation hub opened by S5GC to support the overall growth of the digital economy across the country.

The hub is based at #hellodigital, a digital demonstration centre, hosted by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) at An Lòchran, Inverness.

Businesses have been testing products, services and solutions via the 5G enabled ‘pop up’ portable service provided by technical partner, Celona.

By transporting the new, custom 5G network across the Highlands and Islands, S5GC is taking the technology to the community, accelerating the deployment and adoption of 5G-enabled solutions to deliver economic benefit. 

Surveys from Highlands and Islands Enterprise show that although engagement with digital technology is growing in the region overall, it is still below Scotland’s average. 

Covering over 15,000 miles, the Highlands and Islands region is home to more than 480,000 people and over 20,000 businesses.

Ian Sharp, head of strategy and delivery at The Scotland 5G Centre, said: “With towns so remote and widely dispersed, the Highland and Islands region is an area of Scotland that can significantly benefit from 5G connectivity.

“As well as being our first innovation hub based here, the 5G ‘pop up’ network allows us to bring 5G technology to geographically dispersed areas, from Thurso to Fort William, making it accessible for small to medium sized businesses and showing them the benefits this could bring.

“We have loved this opportunity to collaborate with local businesses on their doorstep and showcase the potential of 5G. Our experience working with rural communities at our S5GConnect hub in Dumfries gives us the tools to usher a new age of connectivity into this region. We’ve already been working with businesses all over the Highlands and Islands, collaborating to solve their unique connection challenges.” 

Theresa Swayne, Senior Development Manager at HIE, added: “Expanding the hub network to the Highlands and Islands will provide businesses across the region with an opportunity to demonstrate, develop and apply 5G connectivity in new applications.

“It will ensure that key sectors continue to be at the forefront of digital technology developments and will help them to grow their businesses and create jobs. We’re really pleased to welcome The Scotland 5G Centre hub to An Lòchran in Inverness and it’s great to see our region’s businesses already using it.”

This hub is part of the S5GConnect programme to deliver a network of innovation centres to drive economic growth across Scotland, as part of the Scottish Government 2020/21 Programme for Government.  As the sixth hub of its kind in Scotland, the Highlands and Islands mobile hub is working with regional businesses and providing access to a 5G development platform, driving even more investment and interest to the area.  

The innovation hub team works with SMEs, communities, industry and agencies all across the Highlands and Islands. Some of the first businesses to use the network include:

  • Project Laxford, by the Atlantic Salmon Trust: This charity tracks the decline in wild salmon around Scotland. The team is collaborating with The Scotland 5G Centre and HIE to look at solutions for poor mobile connectivity in some remote regions, potentially allowing for better data analysis and real-time monitoring. 
  • The Port of Nigg: Based in Easter Ross, Nigg is one of Scotland’s most important energy industry locations and acts as a hub for the renewables industry, with storage, lay down and yard logistics for wind turbines.  The Scotland 5G Centre has installed semi-permanent equipment to improve connectivity, including testing push to talk equipment and a mobile app for workers on the site.
  • The Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI):The Alexander Graham Bell Centre for Digital Health, situated in Elgin, brings together the expertise in Digital Healthcare and Life Sciences within the region and across Scotland. The Scotland 5G Centre has worked with DHI and Scottish Ambulance to demonstrate the capabilities of 5G in the healthcare environment, including high speeds and network capabilities.