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Cisco-led consortium to connect rural areas with 5G opportunities

Paul Lipscombe
August 14, 2020

5G New Thinking aims to boost local investment in rural communities across the country

A consortium led by Cisco has announced a project to support rural and poorly connected communities to develop commercially viable and sustainable 5G networks.

The consortium is called 5G New Thinking and is supported by Cisco and its principle partner University of Strathclyde.

5G New Thinking will run in partnership with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

This project is due to begin later this year and will conclude in 2022.

It will also work alongside the community and civic partners in the Orkney Islands, Borderlands and Northern Ireland.

According to Ofcom figures only 66 per cent of the UK landmass is served by all four UK MNOs.

But Ofcom has sought to improve this by changing its policy on spectrum sharing by making it more open.


The Cisco-led consortium will aim to provide practical information for rural communities looking to make the most of this opportunity and invest in this local connectivity.

5G New Thinking will also look to help these less connected areas to build commercially sustainable next generation networks using 5G technology.

While the project will boost the local investment in rural connectivity across the UK, to close the digital divide.

This will all be built based on the learnings from trials carried out by 5G RuralFirst through 5G trials and testbeds by the Cisco-led DCMS project.

Cisco UK and Ireland chief executive David Meads said that better connected rural communities will contribute billions to the economy.

Based on findings with 5G RuralFirst, the UK’s rural economy could grow by £17 billion over a ten-year period with sufficient 5G technology.

“We believe that by taking advantage of neutral hosting technologies, fixed wireless access and spectrum sharing, we will be able to allow third parties – including local businesses and communities – to build and own radio infrastructure, as well as work with MNOs to reduce costs and make rural coverage commercially sustainable.”



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