Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced that a £30 million UK-wide competition to spark a tech revolution in countryside communities and help rural Britain seize the opportunities of 5G technology.

The competition, which will see up to ten rural locations chosen to run innovative trials of 5G applications and stimulate commercial investment in 5G technology will offer mobile speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations.

The Rural Connected Communities competition is the latest wave of £200 million funding to pioneer 5G testbeds across the country and deliver the benefits of the highest speeds of mobile connectivity available.

The new funding will build on projects like these and trial other uses of 5G in rural communities to help drive business growth, enhance lives and encourage innovation.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “The British countryside has always been a hotbed of pioneering industries and 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. And so we’re committed to securing widespread mobile coverage and must make sure we have the right planning laws to give the UK the best infrastructure to stay ahead.”

According to a press release, the UK Government has today also launched a consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage.

Reforming planning laws for mobile infrastructure is part of the Prime Minister’s plan to level-up connectivity for communities across the UK, further support the roll-out of 5G and boost the economy.

Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Rt Hon Esther McVey MP said: “We’re committed to delivering the homes people across the country need, and that includes delivering the right infrastructure such as broadband connectivity and good mobile coverage. There is nothing more frustrating than moving into your new home to find signal is poor.”

“That’s why we are proposing to simplify planning rules for installing the latest mobile technology – helping to extend coverage, particularly for those living in rural areas.”

Julian David, CEO, techUK added: “5G is an essential component of the UK’s digital fabric. It underpins innovative technologies from drones to AI. techUK welcomes this initiative and sees this Government has long recognised the benefits offered by 5G to businesses and consumers, making considerable investment already in 5G testbeds and trials, including 5G RuralFirst, led by techUK member Cisco.

“As important as the financial support for innovative uses for 5G is, the recognition that the way planning rules are implemented is a big factor in the level of connectivity. I am pleased the Government is now proposing to simplify those rules as they apply to mobile masts in England.”