The Borderlands has been named as one of ten new 5G Innovation Regions to share in a £36 million fund from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
The successful areas will lead on delivering the Government’s vision for communities across the UK to take full advantage of the transformative effect that advanced wireless connectivity and digital technologies can provide.
The successful 5G bid submitted by the Borderlands Partnership comprises five local authorities in England and Scotland - Cumberland Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council and Westmorland and Furness Council.
Making full use of the opportunity from the better functionality of 5G is essential if the Partnership is to fulfil its vision for a revitalised Borderlands.
This vision includes increasing job and business opportunities, and attracting more people to live, work and visit our beautiful region.
As an area which is home to fewer than one million residents but one that welcomes more than 60 million visitors annually, tourism is essential to our economy with wireless technology key to improving that experience and offer.
5G Innovation has both commercial and environmental applications, with examples including supporting digital ticketing and payments, providing real time traffic and destination management and monitoring water quality through wireless enabled buoys.
This new technology will be integrated at five sites around the region with initial potential identified across the Borderlands at:
Windermere 5G Ferry
Kielder Castle and Forest
The Sill @ Hadrian’s Wall
These projects have been chosen because they can be delivered and replicated, with learnings feeding into the Borderlands’ renewed Digital Infrastructure Strategy, and building on the existing success of the Borderlands Digital Voucher scheme which has invested £3.4m across Cumbria and Northumberland.
Cllr Mark Fryer, Leader of Cumberland Council and Borderlands Partnership co-chair, said:
"The Borderlands is world renowned as a tourist destination but historically has lacked digital connectivity to enable people to make the most of their visit and for all our communities to gain the most benefit from these visitors.
"We have ambitions of region wide connectivity which will seamlessly support access to community and visitor information, wayfinding, highlight areas of congestion and encourage visitors to explore the hidden parts of our region.
"Advanced wireless technology can enhance how we tell the story of Borderlands communities, building the tourist economy whilst protecting our environment and local assets."
The 5G Innovation Regions programme supports the implementation of the Government’s UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which sets out a clear vision for how advanced wireless infrastructure can become an integral part of the fabric of the UK's economy and society by 2030.
It is the ambition that people, business and public services across the UK are able to realise the full benefits of 5G and other forms of advanced wireless connectivity as soon as possible.
Sir John Whittingdale MP, Minister of Data and Digital Infrastructure, said:
"We’re channelling millions into local areas to unlock the potential of cutting-edge 5G wireless and digital technologies which will reshape our public services, drive economic growth and boost innovation. This new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.
"For instance, by using 5G for farming and creating science parks, we're not just helping local communities, but also encouraging new ideas all over the UK.
"This is more than just linking smartphones. It's about using powerful digital connections to transform various sectors in the economy and the public sector throughout the entire country."