The University of Surrey yesterday opened its state-of-the-art 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), securing the UK’s role in leading the development of the next generation communications technology, 5G.
Housing over 170 researchers and attracting over £70 million of investment, including £12 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the 5GIC is the world’s largest academic research centre dedicated to next generation mobile and wireless connectivity.
The Centre brings together leading academic expertise and major industry partners to define and develop a global 5G network that will radically change lives across the world. Through their work, they have already developed a technology that enables speeds of one terabit per second (Tbps) - more than 1,000 times faster than the highest 4G speed, and filed over 15 patents.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Director of the 5GIC, said: “While we have already achieved record-breaking speeds, 5G is not only about delivering faster mobile internet. It is a transformative set of technologies that will radically change our private and professional lives by enabling innovative applications and services, such as remote healthcare, wireless robots, driverless cars and connected homes and cities, removing boundaries between the real and cyber worlds. These capabilities make 5G a ‘Special Generation’ of connectivity.
“The true impact of 5G will come from the innovative applications the new network will enable, some of which are yet to be realised. The opening of the Centre today marks an important step in allowing those from across the globe to work with us in developing the new network and for partners, other universities and industry to test out their new applications in a real world setting, before they are brought to market.
“The ethos of the Centre is not built on competition but cooperation. 5G will be achieved through global collaboration so that everyone will benefit from working to a single standard. This technology will then be commercialised from 2020, driving economic development and research for the UK, while delivering research that will impact the world.”
Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “The development of 5G presents a significant economic opportunity and this world-leading centre will position the UK at the forefront of research into the next generation of communications technology. The Government wants Britain to be the best place in Europe to innovate and we are committed to supporting collaborations like this one to ensure pioneering research continues to improve people’s lives.”
Video of the future
Opening alongside the Centre is the 5GIC’s new testbed facility, providing researchers with a fully-functioning advanced 4G network. Over time, it will be upgraded to include fully-fledged 5G technologies and large scale Internet of Things (IoT). By 2018 the testbed will be able to deliver 10Gbs/per cell, ten times faster than the highest speed available over 4G.
To demonstrate the potential of the testbed, 5GIC researchers and partners are today unveiling a pioneering wireless technology performing mobile streaming of ultra-high definition video.
Developed in partnership with Huawei, BBC R&D and the 5GIC, ultra-high-definition (4k) video will be streamed to a mobile device over an enhanced outdoor mobile network, providing a first major step in delivering the expected capacity of 5G.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli explained: “Using evolved hardware and software, the demonstration showed the capabilities 5G could hold for bandwidth hungry applications such as ultra-high definition video on the move. This provides much higher quality, less compressed images than 4G/LTE, streamed to a mobile device or television.”
5G Supporting the Internet of Things (IoT)
Another key demonstration is focused on the requirement for 5G to provide the necessary “backbone” to connect the billions of devices which will form the future IoT, supporting thousands of devices per square kilometre in addition to smart phone usage. The demonstration shows how a new (5G-Sparse Coding Multiple Access) radio waveform can support at least three times the number of IoT devices than would be possible with 4G. It is a great example of how the newly opened 5GIC testbed can be used to trial real 5G IoT applications, illustrating the level of improvement in network capacity that can be expected from a 5G network.