A project aimed at exploring how 5G connectivity can benefit people in rural areas of Dorset picked up an award for the second year in a row at an annual conference.

The Connected Britain Conference brought together leaders in digital transformation, technology and regulation for the rollout of next generation connectivity. This year saw deeper exploration of how 5G is enabling economic innovation in the UK and of how Local Authorities are leading the way in connectivity and roll-out programmes, as well as working more closely than ever before with business.

5G RuralDorset, backed by Dorset Council, is a project aimed at understanding how next generation connectivity can help people live better, safer and more prosperous lives in rural communities, even in environments as sensitive as the county's heritage coastline.

Last year the Dorset Council-led research and development programme picked up awards in three categories; Sustainability, Barrier Removal and 5G Initiative.

New for 2022, the Access Innovation Award was open to any type of organisation demonstrating a successful and innovative initiative to bring access to a previously hard to reach location. This might be rural, urban not-spots or other hard served locations.

In deploying a 5G network at Worth Matravers the project says it has unlocked social and commercial benefits in the area, which has traditionally had big issues with mobile connectivity and been a not-spot with people unable to make a 999 call.

The award submission also touched on areas of the project’s research that deployed infrastructure in a sensitive, low-impact and environmentally friendly way without spoiling Dorset’s UNESCO-designated World Heritage coastline, yet with the speed and coverage to support important coastal public safety use cases.

Through its research and learnings, 5G RuralDorset has proved that mobile connectivity deployment is viable in rural and hard to reach areas as well as at sea. Its use cases also proved that 5G can make a real and lasting difference to rural and coastal communities and to economies in the UK and internationally.

In awarding the prize to 5G RuralDorset the judges commented: “The winner of this brand-new award demonstrated ground-breaking ideas for addressing how to reach difficult-to-reach coastal and offshore areas, backed up by a great case study with impressive results. Similar rural regions in the UK should look to the winner of this category as a role model in the field of access innovation.”

Colin Wood, Programme Manager for 5G RuralDorset said: “We’re over the moon to have been recognised again at this year’s Connected Britain Awards. This goes to show that the project has made a real and lasting difference not only to the lives of the people who live and work in Dorset, but also to the people that visit this part of the world every year.”

Cllr Jill Haynes, Cabinet Member for Corporate Development and Transformation for Dorset Council, commented: “Once again this ground-breaking project and Dorset Council have been recognised by a national organisation at a national event, amongst our peers and large commercial organisations. This is hugely important for the county and will serve to accelerate our digital and innovation plans as we continue to push the boundaries of what very rural areas can achieve, bring investment and employment to the area and become a blueprint for connectivity in the UK and beyond.”