DCMS provides £16 million for 5G test network

Three universities split money from National Productivity Investment Fund to support end-to-end trial in early 2018

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has split £16 million between three universities to develop a test network for 5G technology, with the aim of running trials early next year.

Wi-Fi symbolKing’s College London and the Universities of Surrey and Bristol are getting the money – part of the £740 million in the National Productivity Investment Fund – to work on three small scale mobile networks which together will form the test network.

Each will have a number of the elements expected in a commercial 5G network - including mobile signal receivers and transmitters and the technology to handle 5G signals - to support trials of potential uses.

The project will build on existing research and help to make the case for the timely deployment of 5G in the UK, and mark the first steps towards developing a new national 5G Innovation Network.

DCMS said the trial could involve sending a signal from a mobile device, such as a phone or in a car, to a data centre and back again. This will test the capability of 5G to make an application or service work in a real world environment.

The department also highlighted the potential of the technology to support others such as augmented reality, robotics, remote surgery, and the use of autonomous vehicles.

Head of the field

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock said: “We want to be at the head of the field in 5G. This funding will support the pioneering research needed to ensure we can harness the potential of this technology to spark innovation, create new jobs and boost the economy.

“We know 5G has the potential to bring more reliable, ultrafast mobile connectivity, with quicker reaction times and larger data capabilities, and I’m thrilled to announce King’s College London and the Universities of Surrey and Bristol have agreed to collaborate on this project.

“This test network will trial and demonstrate the next generation of mobile technology and is the first part of a four-year programme of investment and collaboration in the Government’s new 5G Testbeds and Trials programme.”

Other academic institutions, industry and local authorities will be able to bid for further funding to be part of the programme from 2018-19, with details to be published later this year.

DCMS has also built a centre of 5G expertise to support work in the field.

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