Bristol 5G testbed will explore how next generation networks can be built and behave in urban areas
Bristol is to host a 5G testbed that will test a number of key features and potential applications using a combination of commercial and research technologies.
The city has previously been named as one of the UK’s leading smart cities and is home to the ‘Bristol is Open’ initiative which has seen the University of Bristol, Bristol City Council and industry partners form a city-wide network for fostering innovative schemes.
The university will supply its research expertise for this particular project, while BT will provide spectrum and Nokia will be responsible for networking and radio access equipment.
“We are delighted to have been selected by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to host one of the 5GUK Test Networks,” said Dimitra Simeonidou who heads up the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab and is the chief science officer of Bristol is Open.
“Recently announced as the UK’s top ‘Smart City’, Bristol is well placed to conduct this pioneering work that will use innovative network and wireless technologies that will help improve services, businesses and infrastructure in our cities and region. We have long-standing relationships with both the BT Labs and Nokia’s Bell Labs Research, and with this new collaboration we are looking forward to demonstrating the very significant advances resulting from introducing 5G mobile technology.”
The testbed will assess the deployment of the architecture in an urban area along with functions such as massive MIMO, software-defined networks (SDN) and network slicing. These technologies will boost capacity and the reliability of 5G networks.
For example, network slicing is a method of ringfencing certain parts of a mobile network for certain use cases.
The joint research project will initially take place at the Millennium Square area of the city but will extend across Bristol in the future. There are also plans to have a testbed in nearby Bath.
The first focus will be on tourism and transport applications but in the future there will be an interest in how 5G can power the Internet of Things.
BT and Nokia struck a 5G research deal last year and both will hope the project helps them identify potential customer use cases and gain experience in deployment.
“We’re gaining a real-world understanding of how 5G can be used within dense urban environments. This is crucial to building meaningful use-cases for future macro-scale 5G networks,” said Neil J McRae, chief architect at BT.
“5G is teaching us that collaboration is essential and we’re pleased to be working with experts from Nokia and The University of Bristol to lead research into technologies such as Massive MIMO and Network Convergence and enhance our understanding of the role 5G networks will play in building the connected cities of the future.”
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