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Posted 28 July 2021

5G New Thinking – Learning from other regions

RCN Blog

5G New Thinking – Learning from other regions – Part 2


Last week RCN Director Kate Clifford explained the origins of our involvement in the 5G New Thinking project.  In this second part of then blog she sets out what we hope to achieve.


‘Under the rural first project in Shropshire, researchers have been running what’s known as a hands-free hectare, with a drone and a tractor operating autonomously using data sent over 5G to farm a field.

In Somerset a herd of cattle on a dairy farm has been fitted with collars transmitting information about their health and behaviour, and the technology is also being used to run automated milking and feeding’. What is 5G RuralFirst? | 5G RuralFirst


Over the past few months we have learned about the work being done on Orkney, addressing not spots where signals were nonexistent or poor, establishing shared spectrum agreements, making use of existing mobile infrastructure and exploiting wireless networks to boost signals and make Orkney better connected.

Benefits for Orkney include maintaining a Wifi signal on the inter-Island ferry, helping to manage numbers at tourism hot spot sites, protecting the health of children, monitoring salmon in a fish farm and monitoring wind turbines on a wind farm.  On one island, Stronsay, the BBC issued special handsets to 20 users so they can receive live and ‘on-demand’ radio programmes in an area of slow broadband and no digital radio coverage.

One of the project ideas RCN is exploring is whether 5G can be deployed to develop communication systems for crafts using Lough Neagh.  This would be of use to the commercial eel fishermen, leisure anglers and other Lough users.  At this stage we are only in initial discussions. Another idea is using the 5G Technology to enhance the visitor experience of the Lough building on the investments that have been made by Lough Neagh Partnership in tourism development and environmental monitoring.

The pandemic has demonstrated how crucial connectivity is and the potential that good broadband connectivity can offer in terms of home working, home schooling, business development and keeping connected with family friends and neighbours.  It has also brought home just how difficult these things can be if you are digitally excluded and how digital exclusion can further exacerbate social exclusion with big impacts on children and young people and on those who are socially isolated.  RCN is only a small part of this project but is keen to explore how this new technology could be used to solve a problem in a rural community and bring practical sustainable benefits to rural citizens.

Work will commence shortly on the roll out of the project – keep an eye on RCN social media feeds and website for further information in the weeks ahead.  If you are interested and want to find out more email