A consortium led by Telefonica UK (O2) has been awarded a contract to build 5G accelerators in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

The three 5G accelerator facilities, to be called 5PRING, will include demonstration spaces with access to 5G technology, both indoors and outdoors that will extend several kilometres. Each location will have access to private 5G networks–enabling businesses and public sector organisations to experiment with 5G features that aren’t yet commercially available.

“5G is going to become the new basic technology,” explained Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority, in a webinar. “For us to continue to restore our economic leadership, we have to be at the cutting edge of new technology, and this is an important opportunity for us.”

The West Midlands won the opportunity to become the UK’s first 5G testbed over a year ago and is part of the UK government’s £50-million connected communities project.

According to a statement, the 5G accelerators will be designed specifically to attract businesses and entrepreneurs to solve major problems and opportunities that can be commercially scaled, when proven. 

Many events and engagement activities held at the 5G accelerators will be sponsored by technology companies or other major businesses, so that SMEs and other organisations can participate for free.

Robert Franks, the managing director of West Midlands 5G said: “It offers the potential to unleash the full power of the Internet of Things and the potential to guarantee real time communications. Whether it’s in a business context, like manufacturing production, or in a public services context like the emergency services.”

This has included a partnership with University Hospitals Birmingham and telecommunications company, BT, to demonstrate the potential of 5G to empower paramedics to provide better diagnosis, patient care points of need, and improve productivity.

“We are acutely aware of the current situation with coronavirus, and therefore we are following all of the government’s advice,” added Franks. “We are working with businesses and our partners to find the right way to launch these facilities in the coming months, including looking at options like remote access.”

Other members of the consortium include Deloitte, Digital Catapult, and Wayra UK.