The £3.8 million sourced by Oxfordshire County Council will be invested initially in East West Rail between Bicester and Bletchley, and Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.
The county council led the joint funding bid on behalf of nine other councils – Buckinghamshire, all Berkshire’s unitary authorities, Central Bedfordshire, and Cambridgeshire – and will now work closely with them on a 5G project called England’s Connected Heartland.
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Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re committed to working with other local authorities and partners to maximise our chances of securing investment in digital connectivity and telecoms innovation.
“Today’s announcement is testament to the benefits of such an approach, allowing us to demonstrate the benefits of 5G, making Oxfordshire and surrounding counties a heartland for sustainable economic growth.”
The East Wet Rail project will explore how 5G can be used to improve farm productivity along the route, as well as providing trackside communities and businesses with improved connectivity.
The council plans to create a private 5G network that covers the entire Harwell campus.
It has already held discussions with several organisations on site including the European Space Agency, UK Space Agency, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
They are all reportedly supportive of building a 5G network.
Sir John Whittingdale, minister of data and digital infrastructure, said: “We’re channelling millions into local areas to unlock the potential of cutting-edge 5G wireless and digital technologies, which will reshape our public services, drive economic growth and boost innovation.
“This new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.
Dr Barbara Ghinelli, director of Innovation Clusters and Harwell Campus at UKRI-STFC, said: “We look forward to supporting the project team on the plan to build a full private 5G network across the whole of Harwell Campus, which will facilitate innovation options for our world leading clusters in energy tech, space, quantum and health tech.”
“The European Space Agency’s recent work includes using satellites to deliver non-terrestrial 5G connectivity. It is one of the companies at Harwell that will be using the 5G technology.”
Professor Antonio Franchi, head of space for the 5G and 6G Strategic Programme at the European Space Agency, Harwell Campus, said: “We are delighted with the success of this funding bid and the resulting plan to build a 5G network here at Harwell Science Park.
“We intend to further develop solutions at our 5G/6G Innovation Hub that will help to drive 5G digital transformation of the European economy, showcase UK businesses at the forefront of emerging space technologies, catalyse investment into the sector and enhance collaboration with international partners.”
This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.
Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.
Get in touch with him by emailing: [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1
Robert Johnson is a UK-based business writer specializing in finance and entrepreneurship. With an eye for market trends and a keen interest in the corporate world, he offers readers valuable insights into business developments.