5G Testbeds and Trials Programme: Phase 1

Key Features

This DCMS competition encourages the development of a UK ‘5G ecosystem’ with technology and deployment, testbeds and trials to stimulate the development of 5G use cases and business models.

Programme:     The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS

Award:     Up to £2m

Opens: 23rd Oct 2017

Closes: 6th Dec 2017

! This scheme is now closed

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is to invest up to £25 million in innovative 5G testbeds and trials as part of the government’s overall £740 million of funding from the National Productivity Investment Fund for next generation digital infrastructure. Innovate UK are delivering this competition.

This competition will support the development of a ‘5G ecosystem’ in the UK and contribute towards the delivery of the objectives in the UK’s 5G strategy. The aim is to encourage technology and deployment, testbeds and trials to stimulate the development of 5G use cases and business models.

This first funding competition is for Phase 1 of initial projects across the UK that will run from April 2018 until March 2019. Details of future funding opportunities for additional testbeds and trials will be available as the programme progresses.

The DCMS are looking for projects which help support the development of the UK’s “5G ecosystem” by addressing at least one of the following:

  • explore the potential for 5G to deliver benefits for businesses
  • develop new 5G applications and services
  • develop and explore new business models around key 5G technologies
  • reduce the commercial risks associated with investment in 5G

Your proposal must:

  1. Contribute to the creation of innovative testbeds and trials in the UK.
  2. Demonstrate a good understanding of relevant industry sector requirements.
  3. Provide a high-level project plan for the setup of a testbed including any deployment and trial activities planned.
  4. Contribute to best practices and the development of a 5G ecosystem. This includes test networks and other testbeds and trials that maximise the use of the DCMS investment.
  5. Demonstrate access to frequency spectrum: the proposal should describe which frequency bands are intended to be used (if any), and how the project will obtain authorisation for their use.
  6. Describe what infrastructure will be used in the project, and how it will be sourced.
  7. Describe what ‘user equipment’ (user terminals, smartphones, mobile devices and so on) will be used (if any) in the trials, and how they will be sourced. If devices are not single commercial products, the proposal must also explain how they would be assembled and integrated for the purpose of the trial.
  8. Finish all grant funded work by 31st March 2019 (other than for a project on an exceptional basis).
  9. Include a testbed involving hardware, including radio interfaces incorporating some aspect of mobility.
  10. Address, through industry sectors, particular challenges that could be met using 5G services.
  11. Have a significant innovation in respect of either the testbed or the services and/or applications.
  12. Develop trials that de-risk something significantly beyond the capability of today’s commercially available mobile networks.


The project may use an existing operational network. It may also use network elements as currently deployed or upgraded, the construction of new network elements or a combination of both.

Consortiums are encouraged to collaborate with other projects which are also funded by the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, to work on major issues identified by DCMS as priority areas. Consortiums should collaborate and form joint working groups to address these priorities.

Description of 5G

For the purposes of this competition, click here to read what will be assumed as characteristics for 5G. 

Your project can apply for grant funding between £2 million and £5 million.


To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK registered organisation
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work in collaboration with other

The competition is open to organisations of all types who collaborate together in a consortium to bid for grant funding.

The consortium should be industry led or have a strong industry component.

Funding and project details

  • You should be at an advanced stage of readiness before you apply for this competition.
  • Projects should target testbeds and trials that have a short build cycle.
  • A consortium can consist of any size and type of partner.
  • Each consortium should have the skills and experience to build testbeds and undertake high value trials. These will demonstrate potential innovative uses of 5G services.

If the proposed testbed facilities are suitable for continued use, they should be made available for other organisations to undertake trials. Proposals should also consider approaches allowing future use of the facilities beyond the grant funding period.

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to 60% if you are an SME.

Project types 

Projects should focus on providing testbed facilities and undertaking trials.

The work involved should be pre-commercial experimental development, that is to say that trials will be primarily at Technology Readiness Levels 5 to 8.