Scottish Government invests £4m in network of ‘5G hubs’ to accelerate adoption of next generation connectivity

A new nationwide network of 5G hubs is to be created as part of a government-backed £4m funding programme to support the development of next-generation connectivity in Scotland.

The first project will be located in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, and aims to develop a ‘green data recovery platform’, which will create a ‘digital twin’ to support Scotland’s net zero economy.

The Forth Valley Hub builds on a partnership between Scotland’s International Environment Centre, which is part of the University of Stirling, and BT, the telecoms group.

A further nine hubs are planned with the measures designed to support the S5GConnect Programme – run by the new Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC) – which has been set up to support economic growth through the deployment and adoption of 5G services across the country.

Scotland’s Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said: “The 5G revolution presents a significant opportunity for us in the years ahead, and seizing such opportunities is particularly important as we look to build the economic recovery following the lockdown required to suppress the COVID-19 virus. A study conducted by Deloitte in 2019 found that harnessing enhanced 4G and 5G connectivity could increase Scotland’s GDP by more than £17 billion by 2035.

“The Scottish Government’s investment of £4m through the S5GConnect programme will enhance and widen digital connectivity in all parts of the country because we believe that it is through deploying next-generation technologies that we can create something special for businesses, families and communities.

“The Forth Valley Hub, as the first of ten such hubs, will initially focus on the delivery of digital platforms that support job creation, skills programmes, and innovation support for SME and R&D activities. Its first project will aim to develop a green data recovery platform, which will support Scotland’s net zero economy.

“Potential locations for nine additional hubs across Scotland are being considered with plans for further rollout over the course of 2020 and 2021.”

The S5GC is working and collaborating to build on Scotland’s existing Innovation Centres and government initiatives to accelerate the post pandemic recovery and address the digital gap that has been highlighted as key to ensuring Scotland’s business sectors, healthcare and education can thrive in the new economic environment.

The S5GC is working and collaborating to build on Scotland’s existing Innovation Centres and government initiatives to accelerate the post pandemic recovery and  address the digital gap that has been highlighted as key to ensuring Scotland’s business sectors, health care and education can thrive in the new economic environment.

Paul Coffey, CEO at The Scotland 5G Centre, said: “We are delighted to be launching the S5GConnect programme today and to be able to start the process of offering businesses across Scotland the opportunity to get involved in the acceleration of 5G deployment. The role of the Scotland 5G Centre is to act as a catalyst for bringing together industry, academia and the public sector and this programme allows us to do that. We are excited to begin working with industry partners from a variety of sectors on this initiative.

“5G deployment has commenced, but the technology is still nascent – and some of the new use cases are still a few years away. The S5GConnect Hubs will play a key role in accelerating that process and making the potential of 5G a reality. They will think nationally, but act locally, bringing together global and national priorities with local expertise through the reach of existing regional centres and organisations.

“We are working in tandem with the national network of development agencies and enterprise accelerators to establish these facilities quickly. This is a hugely exciting development for Scotland and the wider UK 5G ecosystem and we look forward to announcing more hubs in the near future.”