The transition to future smart cities is being driven by increased urbanisation, increased stress on resources, inadequate existing infrastructure and rapidly improving technology capabilities. However, the race to become the ‘world’s smartest city’ is being hampered by the uncertainty around new technologies. Will they work as expected and intended, or indeed at all? Will they deliver everything they promise? 

5G is the fifth generation of mobile technology. Unlike its precedents, 5G is not just designed to deliver super-high data speeds, but also to handle a high number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It is also designed to provide ultra-low latency (or quicker response times) and better coverage in data communications. 5G is an enabling technology for more revolutionary uses in several sectors such as manufacturing, transport and healthcare. It will operate in three main frequency spectrums: the sub-GHz low-frequency spectrum, mid-frequency spectrum (2.3, 3.4-4.2 GHz) and high-frequency (mmWave) spectrum as depicted in the following picture. 

From connectivity requirements, 5G use cases can be grouped into three service platforms: Mobile Broadband (MBB), Machine Type Communications (MTC) and Mission Critical Communications (MMC). The MBB service platform enables high mobile data rates, with an acceptable level of reliability and latency. The MTC service platform enables lower data rate services and lower costs that are typically necessary for machines. The MCC service platform enables the highest level of coverage and has the highest level of availability and resilience. 

5G and Real Estate 

5G and the implications for real estate is an interesting one to follow. The following use cases are evolving: Live 3D rendering of BIM models in situ for community engagement to show what the building will look like and dimensions once it is completed – this can address community consultant and help address planning concerns such as aesthetics, choices of building finishes and whether or not the development will block views by demonstrating live in the street what new or changed buildings could look like.  

Live BIM model comes up as an overlay for maintenance – engineers can ‘see’ where the pipes and electricity cables are behind the walls and can add maintenance notes in real time.  

Health and safety during construction – 5G is being tested and used to track where firefighters are in a live situation in Mid Wales, mainly testing how a mesh network can be set up quickly – the same can apply to tracking construction professionals in any hazardous environment. 

Robotics in construction – 5G will help signals and the low latency will mean remote control will work in real time. This will be good for tunnelling and enhance health and safety. 

There will be a transformation in how all businesses operate as a result of ubiquitous fast signal, and the real estate business is no exception.  Real estate in particular has an opportunity because it will own, operate or manage the buildings that small cells are mounted on – an income opportunity. There is a discussion to be had in whether you allow the Mobile Network Operators to lease your site or whether you build your own network and lease it to them (neutral host). Site owners could also operate an internal network and charge tenants rather than have each tenant reach out to a network provider. 

The 5G Action Learning Network   

The 5G Action Learning Network (5GALN) has been set up by Connected Places Catapult to enhance capability and fluency in establishing 5G networks. It will help local government navigate their ambitions as place-makers and leaders in roll out of communication networks as well as national and local planning processes, procurement, private sector partnering and public engagement.  It will engage local communities and local authority officers, creating a greater understanding and commitment to the huge opportunities presented by advanced 5G connectivity and digital infrastructure.  

Engaging with the local authority is key from a property owner’s perspective when it comes to 5G plans. By presenting your property portfolio with the rest of your Local Authority’s assets, you can work together to secure the best network configuration and property value for 5G in your area whilst also benefitting from it being managed.   

The 5G Action Learning Network is bringing together the owners, operators, managers, maintainers of the public estate i.e. local authorities – very soon there may be opportunities to work with your local council to pool public and private estate together to build a local 5G network for your town or city.


Dr Reza Akhavan                                                                              Becki Clark 

Senior Technologist                                                                         5G Action Learning Network

For further information go to