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Montrose could become pioneering 5G town in Angus push for superfast connectivity

Alison Smith, Angus Council; SmartRural project director Paul Lindop, Council leader David Fairweather, Mark Davidson, Angus Council and Richard Watson of Rapier Systems at an Arbroath mast site. Pic: Paul Reid.
Alison Smith, Angus Council; SmartRural project director Paul Lindop, Council leader David Fairweather, Mark Davidson, Angus Council and Richard Watson of Rapier Systems at an Arbroath mast site. Pic: Paul Reid.

A plan is being developed to make Montrose one of the UK’s first 5G towns.

Angus Council aims to use Tay Cities Deal cash to accelerate a scheme to deliver ultra-fast connection speeds.

And it’s part of a wider drive to improve digital connectivity for remote parts of Angus.

Masts are already springing up across the district to boost rural coverage in the county.

The SmartRural agriculture-led cooperative has teamed up with the authority to bring its innovations to the area.

And they will be used by the likes of Network Rail and SSEN to harvest real time data of what is happening in Angus.

The Montrose 5G project

Montrose would be one of the first areas away from cities to get 5G investment and superfast 700MHz technology.

Two macro masts will be built for public 5G networks.

One is to be at Montrose port, and the other at the north end of the town.

Its location is the Montrose Zero Four development, a £500 million renewables-led project which hopes to create 2,000 new jobs.

Montrose Zero Four
A graphic impression of the proposed Zero Four site.

An initial testbed scheme to deliver the infrastructure needed for 5G is focussed on Dundee Waterfront.

But plans include roll-out programmes for Angus and Perth and Kinross.

Angus improvements under way

Other work to improve Angus digital connectivity is already under way.

It is also linked to the Tay Cities Deal and Angus Council’s ambitious Mercury innovation programme.

The authority has embarked on a partnership to build a network of radio masts aimed at bringing wireless connectivity to hard-to-reach parts of the county.

The council has no plans to become a broadband provider.

5G phones
Pic: Shutterstock.

But it says the infrastructure could be used by companies wanting to provide faster connections for customers.

Initial trials will see the likes of Network Rail and Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) use sensor technology and other devices to monitor, manage and extract real-time data.

This data will then enable them to transform their operations in terms of efficiency, cost and a push towards net zero emissions.

Angus Council leader David Fairweather said: “Connectivity is a vital part of how businesses across Angus improve productivity, unleash new and innovative businesses processes and open up new opportunities and markets.

“We view our commitment to investing in digital infrastructure as being as vital to economic growth and equally important as the physical infrastructure of our roads, rail and buildings.”

Paul Lindop at SmartRural said: “Angus is at the forefront of trialling and delivering a whole range of rural use cases supporting the digitisation of rural Scotland – from agriculture to rail infrastructure; from tourist locations to power network operations.

“We are extremely pleased to see that SSEN are already using SmartRural’s LoRaWAN network to perform field trials of devices that could potentially form part of their future smart grid, delivering decarbonisation of transport and heating for rural areas.

“We look forward to seeing other parties come forward and use this unique rural asset that Angus Council have created.”

Ambitious developments

It is the third major recent announcement by the council linked to the Tay Cities programme.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed with Dalhousie Estates for a clean growth business park at Brechin.

The site beside the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen dual carriageway will become a showpiece rural mobility hub.

And the former Forfar mart is earmarked to become a Centre for Agricultural Sustainable Innovation (Casi).

It will bring together four of the most ambitious names in Scottish farming as partners in a project to propel the region to the forefront of agricultural innovation.

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