Tech trial is part of the 5G RuralFirst initiative and runs for six weeks

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The BBC is extending its rural coverage using 5G, as part of a tech trial in Stronsay, Orkney. It is using 5G for live radio broadcasts, utilising a modified version of the BBC Sounds app.

The 5G trial works by sending a single version of a programme over a wide area, which anybody in range can receive. This differs from live-streaming, where the same programme is sent individually to every person that requests it.

A 4G/5G network has been installed on Stronsay exclusively for the trial. Wireless internet service provider Cloudnet is in talks to take over aspects of the technology at the end of the trial to enable it to provide wireless home broadband services to the island.

The trial is being run for six weeks as part of the 5G RuralFirst initiative (pictured), which is a testbed for connectivity in rural areas. It’s been formed by 29 partners from across the technology, broadcasting, academic, agricultural and public sectors. These include Cisco, the University of Strathclyde, the BBC, the Agri-EPI Centre, Orkney Islands Council and Scottish Futures Trust.

Kieran Clifton, director of distribution and business development, BBC, said: “The internet has changed how people watch and listen to programmes, and we want to bring those benefits to all of our audiences. This can be challenging in rural areas, so we’re pioneering new ways of reaching people using the latest technology.”

Nick Chrissos, director of innovation, Europe, Cisco added: “5G RuralFirst is about building a business case for 5G rollouts beyond urban areas and demonstrating the value of investing in the digital infrastructure serving rural businesses and communities for the benefit of the entire country.”