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Solihull telecoms lab to open in 2024

Andy Street Solihull telco lab
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands

A government-backed telecommunications lab will open in the West Midlands next year to test the security, resilience and performance of mobile networks.

The UK Telecoms Lab (UKTL) will be based at UK Central in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, a large market town located south-east of Birmingham.

The research facility is set to create up to 50 skilled jobs by March 2025.

It will provide testing resources for equipment – such as radio network infrastructure – and advice for suppliers and vendors in the telecommunications space.

The telecoms lab is the latest boost for Solihull, which is already home to Gymshark, the fitness apparel ecommerce company valued at more than $1bn.

“This strategic investment supports Solihull’s ambition to be an important driver of national connectivity, with ‘UK leading connectivity’ already forming the hallmark of our proposition,” said Councillor Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council and portfolio holder for the economy.

“By helping new businesses to secure a foothold in the telecoms market, UKTL also strengthens Solihull’s reputation as an ideal environment for ambitious companies to thrive.”

The lab is being funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK’s national metrology institute, will run the Solihull facility.

“Through UKTL we will place the UK at the forefront of new technologies, injecting innovation, supporting invention and providing the platform for implementation to deliver impact from science for our national security and economic growth,” said Emma Haynes, partnerships director at NPL.

The plans were unveiled during Birmingham Tech Week by an event hosted by the West Midlands Growth Company.

Plans to build the telecommunications lab in Solihull were first announced in October 2022 by Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands.

It is being launched as part of the government’s plan to diversify 5G networks.

Security in mobile networks was underscored by the government’s decision to remove Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from the UK by 2027.

Last week five companies announced plans to create a combined 1,000 tech jobs across the West Midlands over the next three years in a boost for the region’s technology sector.

Read more: West Midlands regional tech report