ALSTON and Nenthead aren’t usually places associated with cutting edge technology and high speed internet.

But the communities are now set to benefit from the arrival of superfast 5G internet through a new 5G Rural Integrated Test Bed (5GRIT), a partnership of businesses and universities building a 5G testbed

The 5G testbeds and trials programme is a government initiative announced in autumn 2017 that has already led to the creation of a UK 5G network to test the new technologies needed for 5G coverage.

Daniel Heery, project manager at Alston based technology company Cybermoor, part of 5GRIT, is excited about the benefits 5G will bring to the area.

He said: “We know this could make a huge difference to rural communities and economies.

“We’ve got some 5G equipment in at Nenthead already and we’re starting to put more bits of equipment in the next few months. Then there will be some testing that goes through to September.

“5G is significantly better than the internet we have now. I think in rural areas the speed will be slower than it is in cities, but it will be more reliable.”

Thanks to the 5G connectivity, Nenthead and Alston now have their own version of the World Around Me (WAM) app.

The award-winning augmented reality app is used worldwide to help tourists find places to eat, drink, shop, stay, and other services.

In the case of the North Pennines, the app will do more, unlocking local events, heritage places and historic stories.

The augmented reality experience enables users to view oral history on their phone screen and also listen to associated audio as they explore.

The app’s creators have worked with the North Pennines AONB Partnership to provide digital content for the app, producing a film of Nenthead Mines, along with audio guides to places of interest around the area.

It’s hoped that this will bring more tourists into the area and make them stay for longer.

Daniel added: “5G will encourage people to stay here longer.

“It’s not like the Eden Project. I’s not going to change everyone’s lives, but it’s the incremental changes that will make a difference.”

However, the public will have to wait before using 5G internet on their phones.

The likes of Samsung and Huawei are set to release 5G capable phones later this year, with the major networks set to start offering it in contracts after that.