Government wants charities to take part in £30m rural 5G trials

Charities are being urged to link up with businesses, public sector bodies and academics to bid for £30m in grant funding to tackle digital exclusion in rural areas.

The move is part of a roll out of next generation 5G mobile technology, which aims to provide mobile speeds up to 20 times faster than current connections.

The government wants to ensure that communities in isolated rural areas are not left behind in the roll out of the new technology.

In guidance to applicants the government says it expects consortia to be created to test the 5G technology in isolated area and involve tech firms, charities, private and public sector organisations as well as academic experts.

It states “consortia are likely to consist of a mixture of organisations including the public, private and third sectors, and academia”.

It adds that it also expects that one small or medium sized enterprise should be involved in the bidding.

The £30m funding for the Rural Connected Communities project is part of £200m of government funding to roll out 5G across the country.

Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport secretary Nicky Morgan said: “We’re making sure our rural communities aren’t left behind in the digital age.

“We’re investing millions so the whole country can grasp the opportunities and economic benefits of next generation 5G technology. In modern Britain people expect to be connected wherever they are.”

The deadline for applications is 25 October with the winning bids announced by the end of the year.

In last year’s Civil Society Strategy the government pledged to ensure that digital technology is used to help charities reach more people and ensure their voices are heard.

In June the report The Future Charity found that only a third of charity professionals believed their organisation is “ready for the next decade of technology” and almost two thirds believe their charity is struggling to deliver “an effective digital experience”.

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