Blu Wireless, a specialist provider of unlicensed 60GHz wireless networking solutions, has announced that it has won two pilot project bids from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS). As part of the UK’s 5G Strategy, Blu Wireless has successfully secured funding for testbeds that will prove the commercial and public viability of its 5G technologies – which will help to bring about tangible social benefits.
The Liverpool 5G testbed will see Blu Wireless provide wireless technology needed for bringing gigabit broadband networks to deprived areas, building the foundation for next generation healthcare services; whilst the AutoAir 5G testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) is a pilot project for providing high-speed transport (cars, buses and trains) with sufficient real-time network bandwidth. Both exploiting the advantages given by mmWave 5G connectivity.
In the Liverpool 5G testbed, Blu Wireless, along with its consortium of innovative partners are aiming to build a cost-effective networking platform that will provide the foundation for health and social applications, bringing demonstrable benefits to local councils, the neighbourhoods within them and their overall societal health.
Using its mmWave 60GHz technology, Blu Wireless will bring gigabit broadband to disadvantaged areas that can be used for all manner of services, with the primary objective being to prove the return-on-investment (RoI) that these networks can bring to social and medical care – as well as proving the viability of its wireless technology for commercial ISP broadband deployments.
Building on already installed fibre, ISPs will be able to use the unlicensed 60Ghz band to connect homes to a street-level mesh network that can be mounted on street lights. This approach bypasses the need to install physical fibre connections to the individual homes – a very economically smart and cost-competitive model. This approach is a step-change, enabling much quicker deployment to end users and RoI to the operators of these networks.
As part of the Liverpool 5G testbed, around 50 inpatients in the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (RLBUHT), as well as 150 users of Liverpool Adult Social Services, will have access to applications based on the high-bandwidth broadband network.
These applications include video monitoring, augmented by artificial intelligence based analytics which can spot behavioural anomalies or emergency incidents like falls in the home. Teleconferencing to help patients connect with their practitioners will also be enabled, for cost-effective remote healthcare and to combat loneliness in older adults – a serious problem in an ageing population.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) systems, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to monitor in-home conditions, will also be explored in the testbed, to explore their use in preventative care. This offers a more cost-effective way of treating conditions than emergency admissions, further reducing the digital divide amongst communities and bringing widespread access to health and social care services.
Blu Wireless’ partners in the Liverpool 5G Testbed cover a range of sectors, and include: AIMES, Inventya, DefProc, Digital Creativity in Disability, CGA Simulation, Sensor City, Liverpool City Council, RLBUHT, Liverpool University, and Liverpool John Moore’s University.
The AutoAir CAV testbed will focus on developing 5G technologies to serve the unique requirements of new rail and road transport. Fast travel speeds complicate cell-tower handoff, and autonomous vehicles will require more network bandwidth than is available currently.
AutoAir will explore the capabilities of ‘Neutral Host’ infrastructure, which can be shared among operators to avoid redundant private network overlap. The infrastructure will be shared via 5G’s network slicing capabilities, which will allow specific applications to use dedicated sections of the network. This will help offset the higher anticipated deployment costs of 5G networks, due to the higher RF attenuation that prevents the millimetre wave (40GHz+) spectrum from penetrating walls – the trade-off for its multi-gigabit throughput capacity.
For the AutoAir testbed, Blu Wireless partnered with the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), ARM, Celestia Technologies, Cobham, McLaren Applied Technologies, Millbrook, Quortus, and Real Wireless.