West Midlands 5G Limited (WM5G) – the UK’s largest 5G innovation company – has exceeded its targets in successfully establishing the West Midlands and the UK’s best connected region for 5G and proven the opportunity for 5G to transform healthcare, transport and manufacturing – evidencing over £200m in benefits.

WM5G was established by the WMCA and DCMS in 2019 with a mission to accelerate 5G rollout – recognising the upfront costs and challenges – and to test and prove transformational innovations using 5G – over a three year horizon to March 2022.

As a result of WM5G’s work the WMCA region is now the UK’s best connected region for 5G and thanks to WM5G’s pioneering barrier busting work in partnership with mobile operators, Local Authorities and DCMS. Prior to WM5G’s work it could take up to 3 years to get access to update a mobile site thanks in part to recent changes to planning legislation and compensation models, and our work saved over £800k across the West Midlands in avoided planning costs.

WM5G has built the UK’s first large scale digital connectivity map – showing the locations which don’t have 4G and 5G coverage and also the hundreds of thousands of public buildings and other assets that could be utilised to offer connectivity. WM5G then worked in partnership with mobile operators and Local Authorities to streamline the processes and compensation models for 5G deployment. As a result of this work operators were able to deploy 5G at least 6 months faster. Consequently the West midlands now has the best 5G coverage of any region with over 22% geographic coverage and over 60% population coverage, according the independent analysts Umlaut.

Furthermore WM5G has proven over £200m GVA in benefits from 5G to transform healthcare, transport and manufacturing – as well as supporting over 500 organisations to understand the benefits of 5G and develop new innovations. By working in partnership with both the public and private sector, WM5G delivered a number of projects with the aim of bringing real and tangible benefits for people and businesses and strengthen the West Midlands’ position as the hub of the UK’s 5G ecosystem and as a global leader in the sector.

In addition WM5G supported the development of a number of UK’s firsts:

  • A 5G road sensor network at over 40 junctions starting to prove the opportunity to reduce road congestion and pollution by >2.5%.
  • 14 transport use case trialsproviding transformation opportunities for public transport productivity gains, improvements to public safety and customer experience, and projects in both road and rail infrastructure in the region.
  • The UK’s first 5G connected ambulance and capsule endoscopy trials (early bowel cancer detection) – proving the opportunity to improve patient care and productivity via 5G
  • The first 5G private network deployed at SME Manufacturer sites with AE Aerospace and the Manufacturing Test Centre – providing opportunity for 3%-5% improvement in productivity and laying the foundation for adoption.
  • The UK’s first 5G application accelerator programme called 5prinG, across three sites (Wolverhampton, Coventry and Birmingham) – working in partnership with O2, Deloitte, Digital Catapult and Wayra. Over 400 organisations have been upskilled on the benefits of 5G via 5prinG and over 60 start-ups to-date developed new 5G products and services responding to local innovation challenges – including cleantech, construction and smart cities.
  • Finally a successful communication programme is engaging 500k citizens, public services and businesses to raise awareness of the benefits of 5G and drive adoption, along with a Youth engagement Programme called 5G in 5 Days.

Now, as a result of these successes, WM5G is evolving as a commercial entity to help citizens, public services and businesses benefits from advanced connectivity, sensors and data/AI. WM5G will continue to do this in the West Midlands and also work with other stakeholders on an arms-length basis – helping the region and other parts of the UK realise transformative benefits from technology.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman, said: “Our £20 million investment in WM5G is generating huge value for the West Midlands – boosting the economy by supporting jobs, driving productivity across local industries and levelling up communities.

“As the region takes centre stage with the Commonwealth Games, I’m thrilled this fantastic project is also putting the West Midlands at the top of the table for 5G connectivity and innovation which will deliver lasting benefits for years to come.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “WM5G has delivered some astonishing projects that make a material difference to the lives of people here in the West Midlands.  We are now the leading region in terms of 5G connectivity, which is a critical foundation for future growth and the backbone of our future economy and society. Thanks to the work of WM5G, the West Midlands region is now a leader in harnessing the power of 5G and the deployment of connectivity technologies particularly in the transport, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, where our region now has a genuine competitive advantage. From monitoring the health of the elderly, to the way our people are linked to the economy of the future, the way companies do business, the way we deliver public services, the experience of travellers on public transport – everything can be made better thanks to the power of this technology.”

Keith Bullock, DCMS Director for 5G Tests & Trials said “WM5G has created a nationally replicable model for accelerating 5G rollout in urban areas and pioneered innovative benefits to transform key sectors using 5G. We are delighted that WM5G is evolving to continue to deliver benefits going forwards – in the West Midlands and beyond on a self-funded basis.”

Robert Franks, MD of WM5G, said “We’re delighted with the benefits that WM5G has delivered in the West Midlands over the last 3 years. I’d like to thank all of our partners – including the WMCA and DCMS – for their invaluable support. Now we’re extending the benefits we’re delivering in the West Midlands and beyond on a commercial basis. So we’d be delighted to talk to further customers in the West Midlands and beyond about how we can help them get the benefits from connectivity – including 5G.”