BT leads on rural 5G trial in Wales

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Technology like 5G could help provide new opportunities for education in rural areas of Wales, according to a new trial.

5G Wales Unlocked is the innovation project behind the new immersive 360-degree classroom in Ebbw Vale, just one of several trials demonstrating how ultrafast technology like 5G could transform rural communities, from powering tech innovations in agriculture, to improving rural transport and education and bolstering the tourism industry.

Using a localised 5G network provided by BT as one of the project partners, the classroom uses the high-speed connectivity to project inspiring and educational video content onto all four walls in a 360-degree format, providing an immersive experience.

Lessons can be delivered across a variety of curriculum-related themes, taking children and young people on a journey of the senses as they ‘dive’ into the detail of a plant cell or explore the surface of a planet.

Thanks to the ultrafast 5G connection, live link-ups have also been established, allowing learners to discover the fascinating history of heritage sites such as Raglan Castle, with a live virtual tour from a Cadw custodian located at the site.

The live link-ups can also be used to connect classrooms across the country, meaning pupils can work collaboratively with other learners, and educators can enhance their own lessons in partnership with other schools.

Welsh Government Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles MS said: “It’s fantastic to see learners in Ebbw Vale benefitting from next-generation technology, thanks to this innovative project.

“It’s our ambition to see Wales leading the way in using digital technology to deliver high-quality education, and to raise attainment and skills of all learners, regardless of background. This trial will help learners in rural areas engage with the curriculum in an exciting, immersive environment.”

Nick Speed, BT Group Director in Wales, said: “We’re excited to be part of this pioneering project looking at the potential of 5G in rural areas.

“The immersive classroom is a brilliant example of how 5G’s greater bandwidth can help deliver rich, high quality content to inspire school pupils about the world, wherever they’re located. It has the potential to reduce the education gap between areas and make sure that all pupils have access to this kind of innovative learning material.”

5G Wales Unlocked has been made possible by funding from the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys Programme and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

5G Wales Unlocked is an innovation project demonstrating the commercial value of improved connectivity in rural Wales to accelerate the deployment of 5G and digital services across the region.

The project is led by the Welsh Government and involving a consortium of partners comprised of BT, Cisco, Cardiff University, Jam Creative Studios, Monmouthshire CC, Blaenau Gwent CBC, UtterBerry and AppyWay. The project has received grant funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.