By Kristy Dorsey

The first in a series of hubs to support the roll-out of next-generation 5G mobile internet connection across the country is set to open in Forth Valley following a £4 million investment by the Scottish Government.

The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC) will today launch its Connect Programme to enable businesses, organisations and people to reap the benefits of this new connectivity platform, which is currently in the early stages of deployment in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and a number of other towns and cities across the country.

The first hub will be in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, and builds on a partnership between the University of Stirling’s International Environment Centre and telecoms group BT. It will initially focus on the delivery of digital platforms that support job creation, skills programmes, and innovation support for SME and research and development activities.

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Potential locations for additional hubs are being reviewed, with further announcements expected over the course of 2020 and 2021. Each will focus on sectors relevant to their local areas, working with mobile operators and private network providers to accelerate regional 5G networks.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse will discuss the plans this morning during an online event with businesses, academic institutions and public sector organisations with an interest in 5G.

“The 5G revolution presents a significant opportunity for us in the years ahead, and seizing such opportunities is particularly important as we look to build the economic recovery following the lockdown required to suppress the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

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A study conducted by Deloitte in 2019 found that harnessing enhanced 4G and 5G connectivity could increase Scotland’s GDP by more than £17 billion by 2035.

Set up in October 2019, the S5GC is a partnership between the University of Glasgow, the Scottish Futures Trust and the University of Strathclyde, which hosts the centre. Headed by chief executive Paul Coffey, its aim is to bridge the gap between academia, industry and government bodies to accelerate 5G deployment.

“5G deployment has commenced, but the technology is still nascent – and some of the new use cases are still a few years away,” Mr Coffey said. “The S5GConnect Hubs will play a key role in accelerating that process and making the potential of 5G a reality.”