Boosting the region’s 5G offer

Last week saw Vodafone become the first operator to name an official switch-on date for 5G. With the telecoms giant also announcing plans for a major new facility at the Ricoh Arena, not to mention 5G tech arriving at New Street Station in April, how can collaboration help ensure the success of 5G? And what role can the West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) partnership play in delivering this ambitious plan for the region? Wayne Langford, Director of WMCU, explains:

The West Midlands was selected in 2018 to become the innovative home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed. This £150m trial is set to pave the way for the future rollout of 5G across the UK, making the region the first in the UK ready to trial new 5G applications and services at scale. The focus of the project is to create the opportunity and conditions to build, test, trial and experiment with how 5G connectivity can improve digital services.


So, how can our three universities play a role in helping deliver this for the region?

To begin with – it’s about collaboration. And for a region-wide project of this scale, collaboration is crucial.

Our three partner universities together boast considerable assets in terms of estates, access to staff, students and businesses – not to mention research capabilities – which means we can offer a ready-made testing environment for 5G applications.

We bring together a total of 100,000 people, some 80,000 students and 20,000 staff, right across the region. Our estates too also provide a wide geography, with each university deeply embedded in its city and each one boasting unrivalled knowledge of and a long, proud history of contributing to social, economic and educational development in the region. And with more than £1bn of estate investment planned over the next ten years this is only set to increase.

What this combined estates and people offer means is that we can have regional impact with test bed and application accelerator capabilities right across the West Midlands.


As WMCU, our partnership brings together the expertise, assets and resources of our three institutions to deliver social and economic impact across the West Midlands. Our focused and agile collaboration takes us beyond the individual offerings of our partner universities.

We share WMCA’s vision to deliver a more prosperous West Midlands, and, by working together, are better placed to drive growth, improve opportunities and make a positive and lasting impact on the cities and communities across the region. Delivering 5G is a crucial element of this – collectively, we can rise to the challenge of helping the region deliver the UK’s first 5G testbed.