Scotland’s Highlands and Islands Embrace 5G Connectivity Through the Scotland 5G Centre’s Pop-Up Network

The Scotland 5G Centre using technology to support Project Laxford, by the Atlantic Salmon Trust

The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC), funded by the Scottish Government, is revolutionizing connectivity in the Highlands and Islands through its first-ever pop-up network service. This innovative initiative aims to deliver advanced connectivity technology to towns and communities in the region, promoting economic growth and digital development. S5GC, as the national centre for accelerating the deployment and adoption of 5G in Scotland, has opened its sixth innovation hub to support the digital economy’s overall expansion across the country.

Based at the #hellodigital demonstration centre, hosted by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) at An Lòchran in Inverness, this hub has become the testing ground for businesses seeking to harness the power of 5G. With the assistance of technical partner Celona, S5GC has transported a custom 5G network across the expansive Highlands and Islands region, taking the technology directly to the community. By doing so, the deployment and adoption of 5G-enabled solutions are accelerated, creating opportunities for economic benefits to reach even the most remote areas.

Surveys conducted by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise have revealed that although digital technology engagement is growing in the region, it still lags behind Scotland’s average. Covering over 15,000 square miles and being home to more than 480,000 people and over 20,000 businesses, the Highlands and Islands region presents unique challenges and opportunities for connectivity.

Ian Sharp, Head of Strategy and Delivery at The Scotland 5G Centre, expressed the significance of bringing 5G connectivity to this geographically dispersed region: “The Highland and Islands region is an area of Scotland that can significantly benefit from 5G connectivity. The 5G ‘pop-up’ network allows us to bring 5G technology to towns spread across vast distances, from Thurso to Fort William, making it accessible for small to medium-sized businesses and showcasing the potential benefits it could bring. We have relished the opportunity to collaborate with local businesses on their doorstep and demonstrate the potential of 5G.”

The S5GC’s experience working with rural communities at their S5GConnect hub in Dumfries equips them with the tools to usher in a new age of connectivity in the Highlands and Islands. They have already begun collaborating with businesses in the region, working together to address unique connection challenges.

Theresa Swayne, Senior Development Manager at HIE, emphasized the positive impact of expanding the hub network to the Highlands and Islands: “It will ensure that key sectors continue to be at the forefront of digital technology developments and will help them to grow their businesses and create jobs. We’re really pleased to welcome The Scotland 5G Centre hub to An Lòchran in Inverness, and it’s great to see our region’s businesses already using it.”

The newly established hub is part of the S5GConnect program, which aims to establish a network of innovation centers across Scotland to drive economic growth. As the sixth hub of its kind in the country, the Highlands and Islands mobile hub collaborates with regional businesses and provides them with access to a 5G development platform, attracting investment and generating interest in the area.

Among the first businesses to utilize the network are Project Laxford, a collaboration between the Atlantic Salmon Trust and S5GC, which aims to address poor mobile connectivity in remote regions to enhance data analysis and real-time monitoring. The Port of Nigg, a vital energy industry location in Easter Ross, is testing push-to-talk equipment and a mobile app for workers on the site, while the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI) in Elgin explores the capabilities of 5G in the healthcare environment.

As the Scotland 5G Centre continues its mission to bridge the connectivity gap in rural areas, the Highlands and Islands are set to become a thriving hub of innovation and digital transformation, ensuring that businesses and communities alike can reap the benefits of cutting-edge technology.

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