Sunderland’s 5G Network

Topic Infrastructure
Technology 5G
Sector Infrastructure

The City of Sunderland has deployed a 5G mobile network across the city centre in partnership with Boldyn Networks – but you may be wondering what exactly is 5G, what are its benefits for the City and how we know it’s safe. Great questions we answer below.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile connectivity. As the world depends more and more on mobile connectivity and we consume more data, existing networks are becoming congested.

5G will have the ability to handle this demand, but it also offers a number of new features:
• It offers faster download and upload speeds. Faster speeds will enable development of new services that need to transfer large amounts of data, such as a remote specialist hospital consultant supporting a paramedic in the field via a live, high definition video feed.
• It enables more devices to simultaneously access the mobile internet. This is important as we start to connect more “things” in our homes and in our workplaces.
• It reduces the time it takes for data to transit the network (known as reduced latency). This is key for tasks that require quick responses such as controlling factory machinery.

These features mean 5G will unlock a host of new innovative services and applications, that have simply not been possible before. Innovation that will create benefits for communities across the City and surrounding areas, such as more efficient manufacturing, improved public transport and new ways to learn the skills of the future using three dimensional immersive environments that bring the real world to life.

What is being deployed in Sunderland and what are the benefits for the City?

In partnership with Boldyn Networks, we have built a 53 site, outdoor private network, that provides a 5G mobile signal across the city centre. Currently it’s a private network, so doesn’t provide 5G connectivity for people’s smart phones (the City’s public WiFi service is available to all as a free mobile connectivity service). In time this may change but today it’s been built to:
• Support innovative public services such as the Sunderland Advanced Mobility Shuttle which it testing the commercial viability of autonomous public transport shuttles between key locations in the City.
• Enable digital transformation within organisations across the city, such as the new 5G innovation lab at the University of Sunderland. This will support cutting-edge research and teaching, equipping students with important new technology skills for the future workplace.

5G and Health

Mobile network operators have been rolling out 5G in the UK since 2019. All operators ensure that their radio equipment is designed and built so that the public are not exposed to radio frequency fields above the strict safety guidelines which govern and limit public exposure to electromagnetic fields. However, some people have raised concerns that the introduction of 5G could affect people’s health and have even linked it to the coronavirus pandemic. These claims are completely unfounded and should not be used as a basis to block or delay 5G rollout.

For more information on the facts about 5G and health, please refer to the Government’s 5G Guidance. Additional resources are also available on the Mobile UK website.