January 13, 2021

Sir David Attenborough takes to 5G to showcase the natural world

natural world, 5g

Sir David Attenborough will take to 5G for the first time to show people the wonders of the natural world, as part of a government-funded trial to explore the potential of 5G to improve people’s lives and help build back better from the pandemic.

A new augmented reality app,to be released alongside upcoming BBC series The Green Planet, will see users stream high resolution ‘holographic’ video of Sir David as meticulously detailed graphics of exotic plants and animals adorn their surroundings.

Developed by a consortium of leading creative and technology firms, including EE and London-based immersive content studio Factory 42, the app will highlight the possibilities of 5G to new audiences and show other creative and technology firms how the ultra-fast network can handle data-intensive immersive content. It will also get people engaged with nature and wildlife.

Government funded 5G trails

  • The Government is funding nine test projects include improving fan experiences at the O2 arena and MK Dons stadium, trialling 5G-powered cargo ports and boosting tourism sites such as the Eden Project 
  • Sir David Attenborough will take part in one trial which will use 5G to show people the wonders of the natural world through modern technology
  • More than half of the projects will use new Open RAN technology as the government drives greater diversification in the 5G supply chain
  • Nine projects are set to receive funding as part of a £28.3 million joint investment between government and businesses to test how the country can seize the full benefits of 5G and help British industries capitalise on the power of modern technology.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman, said:

“5G is about so much more than faster mobile internet speeds so we’re investing millions to help some of Britain’s brightest innovators explore the huge potential of the technology to improve and enrich our lives.
“The projects we’ve selected will demonstrate how the blistering speeds of 5G can put some rocket fuel in our economy and help businesses bounce back from the pandemic.”

On the Sir David Attenborough fronted app the Digital Minister added:

“5G Create is about exploring new and inventive ways we can use 5G to give British industries a competitive advantage. This cutting-edge app, fronted by broadcasting legend Sir David Attenborough, is set to be an inspiring example of how new technology can reconnect us with the natural world whilst demonstrating the power of 5G to a huge new audience.”

Further information from the Government’s announcement:

5G will be put to use in some of Britain’s biggest venues. In London, O2’s Project Vista will explore how it can provide instant, multi-angle replays via smartphones during stadium events.The MK Stadium, home to Milton Keynes Dons FC, will be kitted out with driverless taxis, smart parking management and robots to help the site run more efficiently and enhance experiences for spectators and staff. 

Award-winning Leeds-based TV production company Candour TV will test 5G’s ability to broadcast high quality live content and transfer huge video files from a variety of remote locations, extreme terrains and weather conditions. Filmed activities will include caving in the Yorkshire Dales, sea cliff climbing in North Wales and ultra-running across Britain.  

This capability, if proven, could see 5G becoming a standard for the film production industry in the UK - not just in TV production but could also hugely benefit social media content creators, outdoor events companies, music and performance festivals and many others.

To support the tourism sector, the Eden Project in Cornwall will explore how 5G and 360 degree video can enhance the visitor experience and allow anyone to enjoy the exhibits and talks. On the Isle of Wight people will be encouraged to take up yacht racing using immersive virtual reality experiences in a bid to explore use-cases for the sports’ industry.

In a boost to Global Britain, the funding will help improve operations at ports. 5G-powered yard cranes will aim to improve productivity at the Port of Felixstowe while at Bristol Port 5G will enable the real-time tracking of movement of goods. This is part of the Government’s push to harness tech to turbocharge our future as an independent trading nation. 

Trials will also explore how 5G can support the construction industry: testing 5G-powered cameras, drones and sensors at BAM Nuttell’s construction sites in Kilsyth, Glasgow and Shetland.

5G Create

5G Create is part of the government’s £200 million investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to explore new ways that 5G can boost productivity, grow existing businesses or spark new ones. In the competition’s second round, the DCMS has provided £15.2million to be shared across the nine projects with the remaining £13.1 million coming from project partners.

Open RAN

Five of the projects will also test out the technical possibilities of Open RAN - an alternative way of building telecoms networks that allows for greater interoperability of radio equipment between vendors and will give operators more choice and flexibility as they roll out 5G infrastructure.

The adoption of Open RAN forms a key element of the government’s 5G Diversification Strategy which aims to boost diversity, competition and security in the digital infrastructure supply chain.


Notes to editors

  • 5G Create was an open competition set up to explore the potential for 5G in a widerange of sectors. It aims to explore and develop new 5G use-cases and demonstrate sustainability after government funding finishes. It took place across two windows. DCMS announced the first six winners on 31 July and is now announcing nine winners from the second window.
  • Subject to grant funding agreements and due diligence, DCMS will co-fund 9 new projects (bringing the total to 15 5G Create projects) from a range of sectors including: tourism, sport, logistics, transport, creative industries and construction. 

More information on theprojects

MiltonKeynes 5G (MK5G)

  • Government funding: £2,397,243
  • Total project value: £4,103,022
  • Location: South East, Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Council and its partners will test out 5G applications at Stadium MK, home of MK Dons, to illustrate how it can empower other major venues to boost efficiency and create better experiences for visitors and staff in the future. The trials will include using driverless shuttles and road vehicles for moving people and goods across the site, autonomous surveillance vehicles and drones for enhancing security, and testing out robots and drones for goods delivery and hospitality use. 

EdenUniverse (OpenRAN)

  • Government funding: £1,662,881
  • Total project value: £3,338,333
  • Location: South West, South Cornwall

The Eden Project in Cornwall will explore how 5G and 360 degree video cameras can enhance the visitor experience. Those who are unable to go to the Eden site in person will be able to experience the exhibits and talks from their home, care home, school or anywhere in the world via a desktop, mobile or virtual reality device and be taken on a real-time virtual reality tour.

The local 5G infrastructure will also be used to provide real-time data on core services such as energy and water management. The data will be fed into Eden’s site management systems to ensure its rich collection of plant life remains in good condition.

ConnectedCowes (OpenRAN)

  • Government funding: £826,915
  • Total project value: £1,654,389
  • Location: South East, Isle of Wight

The Connected Cowes project is looking at how 5G technology can create an immersive yacht racing experience for the sailing community and spectators in Cowes and online, and to widen the audience and appeal of the sport.

5G technology will be used to stream real-time virtual reality video from on-board yachts racing at events from Cowes across multiple classes throughout the summer. This will be used to create engaging content and enable an immersive teaching experience using 5G-powered VR as a gateway to the sport.

5GAMC 2 (OpenRAN)

  • Government funding: £846,365
  • Total project value: £1,692,733
  • Location: Scotland, Shetland and Kilsyth

5G AMC 2 (Accelerate, Maximise and Create for Construction) seeks to explore how 5G can enable the use of data to maximise productivity of construction processes. The project will set up a private 5G network at construction firm BAM Nuttall’s regional office in Kilsyth, Scotland and a construction project in Shetland, using cameras, drones, mixed reality and IoT sensors to monitor construction process and track assets.

The project will be an enabler for digital solutions that improve construction productivity within BAM Nuttall and the wider UK construction industry. Additionally, it will help grow UKtechnical capability in the field of 5G. It will be delivered by a consortium led by BAM Nuttall partnered with AttoCore and Building Research Establishment.

Live and Wild: Filming with 5G (OpenRAN)

  • Government funding:£1,224,834
  • Total project value: £2,136,420
  • Location: North East, Leeds

Live & Wild: Filming with 5G presents a series of real and challenging filming scenarios to test 5G’s capacity to support the needs of the documentary film industry in the UK. Filming will take place in a variety of extreme locations and weather conditions across the UK designed to test 5G’s performance to its limit including, caving in the Yorkshire Dales, sea cliff climbing in North Wales and ultra-running across Britain. 

The project will monitor 5G’s resilience, adaptability, reliability and image quality as it live streams highend video content.  It will also monitor transfer time and performance of raw batch footage sent directly from remote film locations back to the post-production hub.  

Project Vista

  • Government funding: £1,307,972
  • Total project value: £2,334,844
  • Location: London

This project will take full advantage of 5G to deliver new and exciting in-stadium digital experiences. The project will deliver next generation viewing experiences for event spectators by providing live multi-angle HD video streams and interactive content from the event direct to devices in stadia and across the UK. The end goal is to demonstrate consumer demand and deliver the business case to enable 5G-powered sporting events in the near future. The consortium is led by Members Association DTG (Digital TV Group) working in partnership with Digital Catapult, GWS, O2 Telefonica and Rohde & Schwarz.

The Green Planet AR

  • Government funding: £2,275,498
  • Total project value: £4,409,162
  • Location:  London & South West

The project will demonstrate additional ways that 5G benefits the public by creating a ground breaking and entertaining augmented reality (AR) app for mobile phones. This unique immersive experience will offer an exciting new way for audiences of all ages to learn more about the natural world by streaming scientifically accurate plants and creatures streamed into a number of set locations around the UK. The consortium is led by immersive content company Factory 42 working in partnership with BBC Studios, EE and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

5G Ports -Port of Felixstowe

  • Government funding: £1,634,590
  • Total project value: £3,405,776
  • Location: East, Suffolk Coastal

Working with its partners Three UK, Cambridge University and Blue Mesh Solutions, along with key subcontractors Ericsson and Siemens, the project will test the potential of 5G across two use cases: enabling remote-controlled cranes via the transmission of CCTV and deploying internet of things sensors and artificial intelligence to optimise the predictive maintenance cycle of Felixstowe’s 31 quay-side and 82 yard cranes. Harnessing the speed, low-latency and high-capacity of 5G, the project will demonstrate the productivity and efficiency gains of such technology, whilst reducing unplanned outage.

5G Logistics(OpenRAN)

  • Government funding: £3,054,994
  • Total project value: £5,268,708
  • Location: South West, Bristol

The West of England Combined Authority’s 5G Logistics project programme will develop 5G products and services to support operations at Bristol Port and Gravity Smart Campus and demonstrate a smart and dynamic port environment. The project will focus on security, traceability, and tracking of goods within and across extendable virtual boundaries – and between public and private networks.

It will demonstrate how efficiency and productivity could be improved by replacing existing manual scanned barcode identification with automated recognition and real-time location tracking of items within a 5G Internet of Things environment. The project offers the potential for such advances in technology to be implemented industry-wide; including at other ports in the UK, Enterprise Zones or other business parks.

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