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Orkney 5G projects receive multi-million pound investment

Projects which will see Orkney play a role in the development of new 5G technology have been given a major cash boost.

Two projects aimed at developing 5G technology in Orkney have received a major cash injection, a move which could pave the way for the islands to grasp the full benefits of high-speed connectivity.

The projects have been awarded millions of pounds in UK Government-funded trials, designed to put rural communities like Orkney’s at the forefront of cutting-edge 5G technology.

The news that Orkney continues to be a testbed for 5G will boost hopes that the local community and local businesses can benefit from the new opportunities the technology presents.

However, the news will not be welcomed by all.

A 5G trial in 2019 saw a mast placed on top of Stronsay Junior High as part of a project to bring the new technology to remote areas.

Two families pulled their children out of the school amid health fears.

Announced as part of a £65 million package for 5G trials across the UK, an Orkney 5G test site will be developed as part of a £30 million investment into seven 5G research and development projects throughout the UK.

Meanwhile, the 5G New Thinking Project has been awarded £5 million.

Those behind the project will look to develop a “community toolkit” that will allow the creation of networks that provide rural connectivity for cooperatives of consumers, local enterprise, councils and other stakeholders.

IT world leaders Cisco are leading the New Thinking Project and Dez O’Connor, the project’s chief technologist, said: “We’re excited to be working on this new and ambitious rural connected community project with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“The new project, 5G New Thinking, aims to showcase the benefits of 5G rural connectivity and sustainability. Cisco and its partners are bringing forward extensive knowledge from recent projects, including 5G RuralFirst based in Orkney, Somerset and Shropshire.

“We’re pleased to be working again with principal partner, University of Strathclyde, and others including BBC R&D, CloudNet IT Solutions, and also new partners such as Federated Wireless, Pure Leapfrog and the Scotland 5G Centre.

“With key ingredients of spectrum, cloud and core, backhaul, and community/civic engagement the project will look at how it can help to address some of the most pressing technology challenges to help the UK in improving connectivity across rural, and indeed so called ultra-rural areas.”

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