West Country destinations win £5m for 5G trial

Tourist attractions in Bristol and Bath have secured £5 million from the government to test 5G – fifth generation – technology.

The West of England Combined Authority will install the 5G mobile technology at the Roman Baths in Bath, and Bristol’s MShed museum and We the Curious science centre.

The project is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Minister of state for digital and the creative industries Margot James said: “The next generation of connectivity is set to transform business and society, and the government is committed to ensuring the UK is fit for a 5G future.

“Smart tourism is just one of the projects we’re funding to drive this forward and I look forward to its exploration of the innovative ways 5G can boost the west of England’s fantastic tourism experiences.”

The trial aims to deliver enhanced visual experiences for tourists using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology in the attractions in Bath and Bristol.

Content and technology developments will be provided by the BBC and Aardman with support from the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab.

Tim Bowles, West of England mayor, said: “Imagine a virtual Roman soldier showing you around the Roman Baths, now imagine this moving 360 degrees on your mobile phone at a resolution you have never experienced before – that’s what 5G technology can offer.

“The 5G Smart Tourism bid will allow us to trial some exciting technology at our top tourist attractions, while looking at wider and longer-term benefits for our region.

“This new technology holds the key to a more advanced, sustainable and smart future which will revolutionise the way we all live, travel and work.

The scheme is one of six winning bids, led by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), universities and local authorities.

The government is giving grants totalling £25 million to pave the way for 5G technology in the UK.