The UK government has unveiled plans to convert lamp posts into 5G beacons in an effort to enhance the network and improve connectivity nationwide. The announcement was made by Sir John Whittingdale, the UK Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, during London Tech Week (12-16 June 2023). The government’s Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) aims to boost the network, particularly in rural areas.
Under the program, local authorities will have the opportunity to deploy advanced digital infrastructure, including smart lamp posts. This initiative is a collaboration between the Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology and the Department of Transport. It will provide funding of up to £1.5 million to six local authorities. These authorities will then partner with smart service providers to procure and test the smart lamp posts.
However, the smart lamp posts will serve a purpose beyond acting as 5G sites. They will be designed to offer not only mobile network connectivity but also public Wi-Fi, electric vehicle charging, and public safety and environmental monitoring. The government believes that by utilizing existing infrastructure, local authorities can achieve significant cost savings and enhance connectivity for their communities.
Jesse Norman, the Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, expressed his views on the initiative, stating: “By turning lamp posts and other road infrastructure into smart devices such as public Wi-Fi points, the government are investing in the ways everyday transport infrastructure can be transformed for a greener, cleaner future.” He further added that the program will enhance connectivity nationwide and facilitate access to electric vehicle charging, contributing to the country’s net-zero goals.
The Smart Infrastructure Pilots program is now accepting applications from eligible UK local authorities. The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 7th.