U.K. University Opens 5G Research Center, Demos Ultra-High-Definition Video
Friday, September 18, 2015 | Comments

The University of Surrey opened the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), the world’s largest academic research center dedicated to next-generation mobile and wireless connectivity. The center houses more than 170 researchers and attracted more than £70 million (US$109.2 million) of investment, including £12 million (US$18.7 million) from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The center brings together leading academic experts and major industry partners to define and develop a global 5G network. Researchers at the center have already developed a technology that enables speeds of 1 Terabit per second (Tbps), more than 1,000 times faster than the highest 4G speed, and filed more than 15 patents.

“While we have already achieved record-breaking speeds, 5G is not only about delivering faster mobile Internet,” said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 5GIC. “It is a transformative set of technologies that will radically change our private and professional lives by enabling innovative applications and services, such as remote health care, wireless robots, driverless cars and connected homes and cities, removing boundaries between the real and cyber worlds. These capabilities make 5G a special generation of connectivity.

“The ethos of the center is not built on competition but cooperation. 5G will be achieved through global collaboration so that everyone will benefit from working to a single standard. This technology will then be commercialized from 2020, driving economic development and research for the United Kingdom, while delivering research that will impact the world.”

Opening alongside the center is the 5GIC’s new test bed facility, providing researchers with a fully functioning advanced 4G network. Over time, it will be upgraded to include 5G technologies and large-scale Internet of Things (IoT). By 2018, the test bed will be able to deliver 10 Gigabits per cell, 10 times faster than the highest speed available over 4G.

To demonstrate the potential of the test bed, 5GIC researchers and partners unveiled a pioneering wireless technology performing mobile streaming of ultra-high-definition video. Developed in partnership with Huawei, BBC research and development (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.

“Using evolved hardware and software, the demonstration showed the capabilities 5G could hold for bandwidth-hungry applications such as ultra-high definition video on the move,” Tafazolli said. “This provides much higher quality, less compressed images than 4G, streamed to a mobile device or television.”

Another key demonstration was focused on the requirement for 5G to provide the necessary “backbone” to connect the billions of devices that will form the future IoT, supporting thousands of devices per square kilometer in addition to smartphone use. The demonstration shows how a new radio waveform can support at least three times the number of IoT devices than would be possible with 4G. It is an example of how the newly opened 5GIC test bed can be used to trial real 5G IoT applications, illustrating the level of improvement in network capacity that can be expected from a 5G network.

Partners include EE, Huawei, O2, Vodafone, HEFCE, Enterprise M3, TEOCO Corporation, BBC, BT, Cobham, Anite, Ascom, Catapult Digital, Fujitsu, Rohde & Schwarz, Samsung, Roke, McLaren Applied Technologies, Ofcom, Imagination Technologies, ITRI, MYCOM OSI, Three and Ordnance Survey.

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