A significant number of the world’s leading mobile network operators, infrastructure and tools providers, media and communications organisations and the UK’s communications regulator have formally joined the University of Surrey in its ambitions to deliver a specialised 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) on its main campus in Guildford.
The consortium, which includes: Aeroflex, AIRCOM International, BBC, BT, EE, Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe, Huawei, Ofcom, Rohde & Schwarz, Samsung, Telefonica and Vodafone, has pledged time, expertise and other contributions which together total more than £30 million. This will be added to the £11.6m that was awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) under the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) in autumn last year.
Commenting on the announcement Stephen Bowker, Chief Technology Officer at AIRCOM International, said “The introduction of 5G technology will be an important development for the mobile industry. Recognition of this evolution from the academic community is fantastic and will ensure ongoing innovation for the future of the industry, with technologies that have been scientifically researched, developed and tested.”
Together with the University of Surrey, the consortium will conduct research into the development of advanced technologies for a 5G network of the future, in order to establish a world-leading position in mobile broadband communications and internet innovations. The project will include the development of a 5G “test bed”, based on the University campus, on which to test technologies in a real-world environment.
As a further boost to this major project, plans for the 5G Innovation Centre have now been granted planning permission and preparatory work to build the world’s first centre for research into the future of mobile technology is now underway on the University’s main campus in Guildford. With an expected completion date of January 2015, the centre will be built to high environmental standards and will be home to 150 researchers and around 100 PhD students.
Speaking about the recent developments with the 5G project, Professor Rahim Tafazolli, a leading expert in the field and Head of the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR), said: “We have had an extremely busy year since the initial funding announcement last October, and we are delighted that the formal agreements are now in place and plans are under way to start turning the vision for a 5G Innovation Centre into a reality.
“Undoubtedly, 4G technologies are revolutionising mobile connectivity in the UK and will continue to do so over the next decade, but it is extremely important for us to find innovative ways of coping with the levels of mobile communications data traffic that are expected to continue rising. We will use state-of-the-art 4G as the starting point for our work and complement this with even more advanced technologies which place the user at the heart of the design process.
“The world desperately needs advanced technologies to connect the next generation of mobile users to the internet and to efficiently support billions of devices such as sensors and actuators which are important components of the Internet of Things.
“By bringing together leading academics with heavy-weight industry partners, I believe we can develop the technologies that are required to provide much-needed capacity, drive economic growth and actively contribute to and shape the future 5G system.
“Ultimately, our vision is to provide a consistent and reliable mobile communications service and create the perception of ‘infinite capacity’ and, with our partners working alongside us, the University is looking forward to making this vision a reality.”