Salford seeks 5G network partner

Salford City Council is searching for a digital infrastructure partner to help deliver a 5G network.

With telecom giants, such as Vodafone and EE, having already switched on their 5G networks in core cities, and further locations set to be launched later this year, having infrastructure in place is becoming important for UK local authorities.

In a tender Salford said: “It is vital that we have the right infrastructure across every area of our city to be ready to support service on 5G handsets and deliver 5G use cases and associated businesses.”

The Council is keen to hear from organisations who are interested in forming a partnership to deliver the infrastructure and services known as the Digital Salford Infrastructure Project.

Interested parties are invited to complete a market engagement questionnaire by closing of Friday 19 July on the Pro Contract website.

No value was given for the estimated cost of the project as the project is still in an early concept stage, according to a spokesperson at Salford.

The Council hasn’t decided specifically what partners would do, however after the questionnaire closes it will potentially hold some engagement events with those that have registered interest.

Improving the infrastructure could mean upgrading existing or creating new connectivity sites with masts, as well as ducts and pipes to install extra fibre to enable 5G networks.

Salford became the first site for Vodafone’s 5G trials in 2018 which provided coverage for Greater Manchester’s media hub, MediaCityUK.

Councils and Connectivity

In May Mobile UK, the trade association for network operators, made a call for councils to step up plans for 5G in its Councils and Connectivity report.

The report drew on information from 70 councils on how they are approaching the issue of mobile connectivity.

It found that more than half of councils did not have a councillor with specific responsibility for digital issues, and most had not audited the suitability of their land, buildings and other assets to host digital infrastructure.

Other findings were that fewer than a third had local plans with a detailed reference to mobile connectivity, and three quarters had not applied for any funding to improve their infrastructure.

Liverpool City Council is currently working with Liverpool’s 5G consortium to create a 5G network using transmitting nodes on lampposts. There are currently 80 5G nodes in Liverpool, another 175 are due to be installed by September. The network would be owned by the council.

Westminster city council is also planning to use lampposts for 5G in a deal with provider Ontix.

There are also multiple 5G testbeds across the UK, from the West Midlands to Somerset, with funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media + Sport.

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