University of Surrey's 5GIC opens doors with £70M investment

The University of Surrey has officially opened the much-anticipated 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) as part of efforts to ensure that the UK and Europe maintain a leading role in the development of 5G technology.

According to the university, the centre now houses more than 170 researchers and has so far attracted more than £70 million (€95 million/$108 million) of investment. The aim of the centre is to define and develop a global 5G network by bringing together academic and industrial partners.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 5GIC, emphasised that the ethos of the centre is built on cooperation, not competition.

"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," Professor Tafazolli said.

In July, sister publication FierceWireless:Tech named the 5GIC as one of the top five academic institutions leading in 5G research. The other four are the Wireless Networking and Communications Group (WNCG) at the University of Texas in Austin; the Open Networking Research Centre (ONRC) at the University of California and Stanford University; 5G Lab Germany at Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden); and NYU Wireless at New York University.

The 5GIC was highlighted for its work on constructing a 5G building dedicated to an end-to-end test bed to be shared by industry and academics alike. It is starting with 4G and implementing 5G radio and network technology over time. It's billed as the only centre in the world that can offer a full end-to-end test system across the range of 5G technologies under consideration. By 2018 the test bed is expected to be able to deliver 10 Gbps per cell -- 10 times faster than the highest speed available over 4G.

To demonstrate the potential of the test bed, 5GIC researchers and partners also unveiled what they described as 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.

Another demonstration is focused on the requirement for 5G to provide the necessary "backbone" to connect the billions of devices that will form the future Internet of Things. 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.

Operators including EE, Telefónica and Vodafone have joined a long list of big-name industry players like Huawei in throwing their weight behind the 5GIC. The China-based vendor said last year that it plans to invest £5 million in the centre.

Dr Mike Short, vice president of research & development at Telefonica, said the industry has seen significant change in market requirements over the past few years, and noted that customers now expect to have access to fast mobile connectivity at all times.

"These changing behaviours, coupled with the rise of wearable technology and the Internet of Things, mean that video and data usage are increasing rapidly. As a result, the development of 5G is going to be absolutely crucial in helping to bring customers the new digital experiences they want in the future," Dr Short added.

For more:
- see the release from the University of Surrey

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