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Britain starts 5G research after Huawei investment

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An ultra-dense cloud-based radio access network will be the first priority of the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), as the research organisation received a £5 million (€6.39 million) investment from partner Huawei.

Details of what is planned to be the world's first 5G test bed were revealed this morning. It will be based at the university's campus in England and will be where emerging 5G technologies will be demonstrated amid real-world conditions.

Huawei is supplying equipment and expertise to the project, which will take place across three stages. Phase one will be up and running by April 2015 and will allow researchers and partners to test potential 5G technology and develop standards.

The first priority will be to set up and test the new type of radio access network, which is hoped to demonstrate "unprecedented" capacity to users. Researchers are aiming to develop a new waveform designed for 5G, which will include sparse code multiple access.

The test bed is scheduled for completion in September 2015 and will deliver a 5G network that will cover the entirety of the university's campus, giving access to some 17,000 staff and students.

Fujitsu will provide the cloud computing equipment that will be used to develop 5G solutions. Researchers will be able to access content and context awareness information, big data and social networking use.

Details of phases two and three of the project are to be revealed.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Head of 5GIC at the University of Surrey, said: “This world-leading test bed will be used to develop proof of concepts, validate standards and test vendor interoperability. It will be progressively upgraded as 5G technology emerges, to allow the next wave of applications and services to be explored. The facility is open to partners from anywhere in the world, and we will also be introducing a low-cost way for SMEs and startups to test their innovations for 5G compatibility and showcase their products to a wider audience.”

Huawei's investment is part of a wider $600 million spend it is plunging into research globally between now and 2018. In August, it set up a Korea-based 5G innovation centre in partnership with LG UPlus.

Dr. Tong Wen, CTO of Huawei Wireless Networks, said: “Our work with the 5GIC at the University of Surrey will enable us to test cutting-edge, fifth-generation mobile technologies in an open and collaborative environment, and help to turn the vision of 5G into a reality.” 

Vodafone is one of a range of partners, including the likes of EE, Samsung, Telefónica and Ofcom taking part in the project. Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s Head of Research and Development, said: “While 5G is still in the early stages of development, the testbed will enable us to put theory into practice and start developing a blueprint for the highly intelligent mobile networks of the future. “

Read more:

Europe and South Korea sign 5G mobile tech agreement

Samsung, SK Telecom move to make Korea home of 5G innovation