A new business model to advocate for rural connectivity

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Telecommunications mast at Strathconan in the Scottish Highlands

A consortium of research partners – working together in support of the Moray Scottish Council Region Regional Growth Agreement – could pave the way for better connectivity in remote and rural areas by creating a new business model for the provision of essential telecommunications infrastructure.

The partners want to bridge the digital divide between areas that have access to fast and reliable telecommunications – usually large population centers – and communities that have limited access to increasingly vital public services, many of which are in rural areas of Scotland.

Consortium members

Censis – Scottish Innovation Center for Sensing, Imaging and Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies – Scotland 5G Center and Digital Health & Care Innovation Center (DHI) have received funding from the Scottish Government for develop a business model that could redefine the assessments behind infrastructure deployment, prioritizing potential value to communities over cost.

The consortium’s feasibility study will use a wider range of factors to determine the overall viability of the network infrastructure, rather than relying solely on the number of people in a given area.

Using healthcare as the primary use case, it will consider the societal and quality of life benefits that improved connectivity could bring to rural areas. This will be determined, for example, by the prevention of costs and health benefits offered by helping people with underlying illnesses to live more independently and avoid hospitalization or readmission, through telemedicine services. or remote care.

“We aim to change the way we assess the viability of the proposed telecommunications infrastructure, to the benefit of currently underserved communities,” said Paul Winstanley, CEO of Censis. “While there may be less need in rural areas when you look at it purely in terms of population numbers, network coverage is extremely important from a societal and economic impact perspective – factors that do not exist. are currently not taken into account in existing business models.

“Building on the collective strengths of the three centers, we can demonstrate the value of using healthcare as an initial use case, and then develop a range of other applications.”

“As a result of the pandemic, we have seen tremendous growth in access to services provided remotely. Due to a lack of connectivity, people in rural areas do not have this opportunity and this project could be the basis to address this imbalance in the long term.

“By building on the collective strengths of the three centers, we can demonstrate the value of using healthcare as an initial use case, and then create a range of other applications that could deliver socio-economic benefits in communities. rural. “

The healthcare use case will be developed by DHI, while Censis will examine additional applications in other industries. The Scotland 5G Center will analyze connectivity across different telecommunications standards including, but not exclusively, 5G.

Although the main geographic focus of the project is Moray, it will also examine how the same model could be applied to rural and remote areas of southern Scotland. The principles developed by the study could be used by communities in the UK and potentially across the world.

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