5G: strategy for Scotland

A strategy outlining our vision for 5G and our commitment to embracing the opportunities it will give to build towards our aspiration to establish Scotland as a forward looking digital nation. 

The 5G opportunity for Scotland

5G networks can benefit urban areas, in which initial deployments are likely to focus, but also rural and remote areas, where they could facilitate remote access to key services and contribute to the sustainability of the rural economy. Analysis suggests a number of key industries in Scotland that stand to benefit:

Figure 3


Figure 3

Infographic text:

Healthcare. 5G use cases have the potential to drive efficiency and patient engagement, as well as inclusive access to treatment in Scotland's rural and remote areas.

Current initiatives in Scotland include Fit Homes[4], using in-home sensors to monitor patient health, and use of IoT to monitor hospital beds and automate maintenance.

Transport. 5G connectivity along Scotland's transport networks could support passenger productivity and a more integrated, user-friendly and seamless transport system.

An autonomous bus trial from Fife to Edinburgh is planned, and Transport Scotland is currently exploring Mobility-as-a- Service[5] as a proof of concept.

Education. 5G could support engaging and tailored digital content. With adequate connectivity this could be accessed by students anywhere, any time.

The e-Sgoil[6] programme brings tele-education to the Western Isles, though there are no current initiatives focusing on the role of 5G.

Public services.Added to the above, other public services in urban areas particularly can benefit from 5G in the context of "smart city" use cases.

Initiatives in Glasgow include smart lighting and water management; other cities feature in the Smart Cities Scotland[7] programme.

Agriculture and aquaculture. New processes driven by data and connectivity could drive efficiency, contributing to the long-term sustainability of Scotland's rural economy.

5G RuralFirst[8] trials include salmon health monitoring, autonomous tractors, soil analysis using drones and livestock monitoring through "connected cows".

Immersive content. 5G can support immersive content using AR and VR. Scotland's strong digital creative industries could drive innovation, including through immersive content in tourism, supporting Scotland's rural and remote communities, or in education.

The Portal AR[9] app, created collaboratively by Google, VisitScotland, SDI, Talent Scotland and Scotland.org provides immersive and educational content showcasing landmarks to users in any location.

Energy and Resources. 5G has the potential to drive efficiencies throughout the supply chain and support Scotland's low-carbon objectives

Public bodies in Scotland are exploring use cases such as smart lighting, smart heating and smart electric vehicle charging hubs.

Maximising Future Gains for Scotland

Recent initiatives exploring 5G use case in Scotland show promise, but are largely limited to small-scale trials and idiosyncratic applications at present. Several organisations are pursuing different initiatives in isolation, potentially leading to fragmented approaches. Against this backdrop, Scotland could benefit from:

  • Increased collaboration and knowledge-sharing across stakeholders, bringing together experience, resources and networks in order to identify key synergies and lessons learned;
  • Holistic thinking to consider the opportunity of seamless 5G connectivity for the benefit of entire communities, without restricting to individual sectors or use cases;
  • Development of longer-term planning, setting out roles, responsibilities and processes to convert successful proof-of-concept trials to large-scale commercial opportunities; and
  • Measure to increase awareness and understanding of 5G across stakeholders, including local authorities and SMEs, and to provide hands-on support as necessary.

Key to all use cases is the availability of seamless connectivity, with the underlying fibre infrastructure extended as far as possible. Appropriate commercial models will be necessary to facilitate this:

  • In urban areas, further exploration of commercial models could support cost effective network deployment that makes use of local authorities' existing physical infrastructure.
  • In rural areas, new approaches to infrastructure and spectrum sharing may need to be explored, as well as any innovative technical solutions that can lower costs, working to continue current public and industry initiatives to address rural coverage.

5G as an Enabler - Transport

It is vital that our roads and motorways of the future are safe for the arrival of zero-carbon autonomous vehicles. Connectivity and cooperation are prerequisites to safe automation. Autonomous vehicles will require a smart and well-maintained road network.

Transport Scotland's Trunk Road and Motorway Network Future Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is already building a strategy for mission-critical communication between vehicles, infrastructure and other road users to ensure the safety of traffic and pedestrians.

Transport Scotland is seeking to ensure a coordinated approach for its ITS network and 5G rollout, including Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), to ensure investment in digital infrastructure is future-proofed.

Future-ready infrastructure for CAVs is now being considered from both a user's perspective and to enable infrastructure such as ducting, signalling and communications. If the benefits of safety, accessibility and road space capacity of connected vehicles are to be delivered, then 5G networks and advanced traffic management systems, including ITS, must be well thought-out and developed.

The adoption of CAV technologies is expected to deliver substantial safety benefits and economic growth and is linked to Intelligent Mobility, using technology to enable a more efficient movement of people, services and goods. The Scottish Government's ambition for CAV will be aligned with Intelligent Mobility capabilities. Here, the Scottish Government has committed to investing up to £2 million to support Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and also to help identify opportunities that bridge the CAV and Electric Vehicle sectors. Transport Scotland is developing a CAV Roadmap which explores the opportunities and highlights the interventions and initiatives required to unlock these.

Fully connected electric vehicles will revolutionise transport in Europe with a fundamental impact on telecommunications. As electric vehicle drivers turn on in-car systems to seek the real-time status and availability of ChargePlace Scotland[10] chargepoints, networks will expand and be required to share data between moving vehicles, homes, business and digital platforms.

The need for reliable telecommunications networks will be vital in ensuring households and businesses are able to seamlessly and confidently travel across the country. The rollout of 5G will play an essential role in supporting this transformation to a zero-carbon transport system.

5G: a Catalyst for Collaboration

The Scottish Government is already providing leadership and developing policy using its devolved powers to underpin the infrastructure decisions which will support the commercial investment in 5G networks.

Our strategy is to build on existing relationships, skills and experience which have been established by academic, public sector and industry partners who are currently engaged in 5G-related initiatives across Scotland. Such initiatives are the catalyst for further cross-sector collaboration that will be required for 5G to be successfully deployed across Scotland and the wider UK over the coming years.

This collaboration by the telecoms industry, the regulator, governments and the wider public sector, will collectively support a multi-layered approach for the development and delivery of 5G in Scotland.

Security and resilience will be at the heart of our approach to 5G. Cyber resilience is a critical pillar of our digital ambition to ensure our citizens and businesses have trust and confidence in digital infrastructure, platforms and services.



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