Huawei plans to invest £5 million (€6.3 million/$7.9 million) in the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), which is currently one of the leading 5G research initiatives in the world alongside other government, industry, and university-led programmes in the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.
The China-based equipment manufacturer said the £5 million forms part of a $600 million investment the company is committing to 5G research and innovation globally by 2018.
Huawei was one of the founding members of the 5GIC and emphasised the independent nature of the centre. The company's investment will go towards creating what it described as the world's first 5G test bed at the University campus where emerging 5G technologies will be tested in a real-world environment.
The test bed is expected to take just over a year to complete and will be built in three separate phases. The first phase will be operational by April 2015 and will be used by 5GIC researchers and industry partners. Huawei said it is providing its expertise in, and equipment for, large-scale radio access for the test bed.
"The UK is at the forefront of 5G development thanks to initiatives like this collaboration between the University of Surrey and Huawei. This will help maintain Britain's position as an international home for innovation and put us at the heart of the development of the next generation of mobile technology," proclaimed Ed Vaizey, the UK's Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli, the head of 5GIC at the University of Surrey, said the test bed would be used to develop proof of concepts, validate standards and test vendor interoperability, and will be progressively upgraded as 5G technology emerges.
"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," Professor Tafazolli added.
During 2015, the first phase of development will focus on initiating and verifying a cloud-based radio access network for an ultra-dense network. This is then expected to lead to the verification of the new waveform designed for 5G, including sparse code multiple access (SCMA). Once completed in September 2015, the test bed is expected to deliver a live 5G infrastructure network covering the whole of the University of Surrey campus, providing nearly 17,000 students and staff with the latest communications technology. The plan is to demonstrate 5G technologies before 2018.
As yet, 5G has yet to be defined and currently consists of a set of requirements. Standardisation work is expected to start from 2015 or 2016, and 2020 has been established as the year when the world should see the first deployments of standardised elements of 5G networks.
- see this Huawei release
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