About 5G RuralFirst

About The Project

5G RuralFirst is a co-innovation project led by Cisco alongside principal partner University of Strathclyde and a consortium of other partners from across business, government, and academia. Its first goal is to create rural test-beds and trials for 5G wireless and mobile connectivity across three main sites in the Orkney Islands, Shropshire, and Somerset.

The project is part-funded by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) as part of their wider 5G Testbed & Trial programme and UK-wide 5G strategy. Our project pioneers new approaches to the deployment of connectivity in rural areas, empowering organisations and communities and working to evolve more efficient business models for nation-critical industries that operate in rural environments, such as agriculture, tourism, renewable energy and manufacturing.

Trialling 5G in some of the most remote and challenging environments in the UK, 5G RuralFirst aims to excite governments, policymakers, regulators mobile network operators, and other service providers about the partnership potential of 5G in rural areas and help share new market, technology and application opportunities. 5G RuralFirst will encourage more longer-term investment, as well as engaging rural communities in how 5G could benefit them, personally and professionally.

How will 5G RuralFirst work?

Learn more about the key elements of our project


5G Cloud Core Network

Core network including network slicing and sharing capabilities.


5G Radio Access Technology

At pioneer band frequencies (700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz) and integration of other bands including ISM (2.4GHz/5GHz) and spectrum available for sharing.


Dynamic Spectrum Sharing

Testing the feasibility of dynamic and shared spectrum for 5G to demonstrate the benefits and operability in rural areas.



Testing the potential of 5G technologies to improve how farms grow crops and look after livestock.



Testing the feasibility of 5G standards to provide a more efficient distribution mechanism for online broadcasting as part of the BBC’s strategy to move broadcast in the longer term to all IP distribution.


Community and Infrastructure

Testing a range of use cases across the islands, demonstrating and assessing the benefits to local residents in extreme and very remote rural environments.


Industrial IoT

Testing applications for renewable energy, power generation and industrial equipment.


We believe true innovation comes from collaboration. That’s why 5G RuralFirst is being delivered by a consortium of 30 organisations, backed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Visit our partners page to learn more about how each consortium member supports 5G RuralFirst.