British and South Korean companies are to pilot 5G on subways in South Korea thanks to a £2.4m project funded by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media + Sport.
Under the initiative, businesses will bid for the opportunity to provide access to content and services on South Korea’s transport networks through 5G.
Typically, 5G tests involve enabling wifi access via a router using 5G, as 5G mobile handsets are not yet available; they are expected later this year.
Over the next few months, the project will live test 5G services on the Seoul metropolitan subway system. According to the government, it will “help drive South Korean investment in the UK” and “create new opportunities for UK businesses in South Korea”.
5G is the next generation of mobile connectivity and will provide speeds of up to 20 times faster compared to current 4G technology.
The news comes after the government decided to let Huawei help build non-core parts of the UK’s 5G infrastructure, despite global concerns that the Chinese telecoms firm poses a national security threat.
Margot James, minister for digital, said: “We want the UK to be a world leader in 5G services, and this collaboration with South Korea will create new opportunities for UK businesses abroad and encourage more inward investment.
“The UK has a huge pool of 5G scientific research and engineering talent, and I would encourage all businesses in this field to enter this innovative competition.”
Through the project, businesses and researchers will address a number of user and technical challenges associated with the rollout of 5G networks.
Examples include augmented reality experiences in busy public spaces to help tourists and commuters get around cities; optimisation of traffic management systems to improve the management of commuter flows; and infotainment services for commuters.
According to the government, other benefits include industry partnerships between UK and South Korean institutions; new South Korean investment opportunities in the UK; and greater access for UK Industry and academia to South Korean technology, hardware, software and intellectual property.
This funding competition is being run as part of the UK’s 5G Testbed + Trials Programme, which aims to help British firms develop new 5G applications and services for domestic and global markets. Applications for the scheme close on 1 June.