Aberdeen is speeding into the future with the technology now in place to one day allow driverless cars in the city streets.
It has been announced that the first 5G-ready technology had been switched on in city centre locations such as the railway station, the University of Aberdeen and Pittodrie.
The new wireless infrastructure uses a network of small cells attached to lamp-posts and traffic lights across Aberdeen’s city centre.
The network is expected to extend across the rest of the city in the years ahead as part of a £10 million plan by the Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG), mobile operator O2 and the city council.
Cells are connected back to a nearby centre using newly-constructed fibre links which WIG says “deliver faster and higher capacity mobile services”.
Mobile firm O2 will initially run advanced 4G services but the milestone means even faster speeds are on the cards.
This technology is essential for the advancement of future applications such as driverless vehicles.
Roads with built-in pothole warnings and park benches with wifi are among other visions of the city of the future set out by townhouse leaders.
Earlier this month, the UK government unveiled a “co-ordination hub” to test driverless cars under a £100m programme.
The vehicles are expected to become an increasingly common sight over the next 10 years with major manufacturers investing.
Scott Coates, CEO of WIG, said: “Every major city in the UK is thinking about small cells but in the race to be 5G ready, Aberdeen’s city council had the vision to unlock industry investment in the enabling wireless infrastructure needed to transform mobile connectivity.”
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden hailed the development as putting the city at the “forefront of digital technology across Britain.”
He added: “We have a clear vision of enabling the best mobile and wireless connectivity across Aberdeen to stimulate local economic growth.”
Opposition SNP infrastructure spokesman Michael Hutchison added 5G capability would be “great for the city” and said the group “fully supported” the plans.
But added: “The council needs to work and operate within its means but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to hear this policy-free administration back calls for driver-free cars given that we currently have two co-leaders asleep at the wheel.”