Given Huawei's stated desire to be perceived as a European company, it's not a big surprise to hear the company is investing heavily in a 5G test bed at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England.
The Chinese company is investing to the tune of almost $8 million in the university's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) and is providing expertise in and equipment for large scale radio access for the test bed.
Besides Huawei, 5GIC participants include Aeroflex, AIRCOM International, BBC, BT, EE, Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe, Ofcom, Rohde & Schwarz, Samsung, Telefonica, Vodafone, Ascom International, Roke Manor, Connected Digital Catapult, ITRI and EM3.
More than $88 million has been pledged to the effort, which is in addition to $18.5 million that was awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) under the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).
The test bed will be built in three phases. The first phase is expected to be operational by April of 2015 and will be used by 5GIC researchers and industry partners to develop and test advanced technologies and actively contribute to shaping the communications standards of the future, according to a press release.
"The UK is at the forefront of 5G development thanks to initiatives like this collaboration between the University of Surrey and Huawei," said Ed Vaizey, minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy. "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."
Huawei Wireless Networks CTO Tong Wen said Huawei is committed to researching and developing future technologies that help build better connected societies, businesses and economies. "Making 5G a success will be essential in achieving this. 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," he said in the release.
The test bed will be used to develop proof of concepts, validate standards and test vendor interoperability, according to Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of 5GIC at the University of Surrey. 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," he said.
The first phase of development will focus on initiating and verifying a cloud-based radio access network for an ultra-dense network demonstrating unprecedented capacity to end users. This will lead to the verification of the new waveform designed for 5G, including sparse code multiple access (SCMA).
Upon completion, which is scheduled for 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.
The partners are describing 5G as a technology that will deliver unprecedented data speeds, promising mobile broadband ranging between 1 gigabit and 10 gigabits per second, transforming wireless communication and allowing a myriad of applications in machine-to-machine communication in areas such as healthcare, transportation, vehicle telematics, the development of smart cities and entertainment.
Huawei currently has more than 7,700 staff based in Europe, of whom 850 are working in R&D. It also runs 17 R&D sites located in eight European countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the UK) and operate numerous joint innovation centers in partnership with telecom and ICT partners. Overall, Huawei is investing $600 million to fund 5G research and innovation globally by 2018.
Huawei repositioning as a 'European' company
Huawei, Samsung and others expect UK 5G research center in early 2015
Huawei exec: 5G with 10 Gbps speeds will be ready by 2020
5G research attracts £35M funding from UK government and mobile industry