A PRIVATE testbed for 5G in business is planned for Scotland, with a pioneering R&D facility acting as the initial step.

It is claimed 5G will be a critical part of a range of new concepts in manufacturing, such as the live streaming of engineering instructions to machines, machine-to-machine communication, and the implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

It comes after Ofcom decided to open up “shared spectrum” radio waves last year, allowing individuals and organisations to create their own private mobile networks.

Experts say access to state-of-the-art infrastructure will allow manufacturers to trial new business models, technologies and concepts, by connecting equipment, monitoring data in real-time, and supporting the application of machine learning algorithms.

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It is thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland and follows a move from Vodafone to install a private 5G network at a Ford factory in Essex with the ambition that advanced wireless connectivity could accelerate and refine the production of electric vehicles.

The Scottish 5G experts said that, in practice, it should enable factories to operate more efficiently, safely, and with greater autonomy.

As a first step, a consortium of partners comprising the Scotland 5G Centre, University of Strathclyde, and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, is developing a network at the NMIS specialist technology centres, the Advanced Forming Research Centre and Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, in Renfrewshire.

Malcolm Brew, 5G senior research fellow at the University of Strathclyde, said that “5G will help manufacturers break the mould and create a lot of opportunities for new applications and even business models”.