Ordnance Survey, Met Office & 5GIC Create 5G Network Mapping Tool

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DCMS commissions consortium to create 5G network ‘windtunnel’ that can accurately predict how thousands of expected sites needed will perform

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has commissioned Ordnance Survey (OS) to develop a virtual network environment that can be used by mobile operators to deploy 5G networks.

OS will work with others, including the Met Office and the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey, to rollout the platform in Bournemouth, which is a national test bed for 5G. If it is successful, the system could be scaled up to cover the entire of UK.

The rollout of 5G will require the use of high frequency spectrum that has limited range and is more susceptible to factors such as construction materials, foliage and weather. This means more sites will be needed to ensure seamless coverage for the IoT, self-driving cars and smart city applications.

Read More: What is 5G and why is it different?

5G platform

3D viewshed analysis of Bournemouth
3D viewshed analysis of Bournemouth

The idea is that the virtual environment will allow network planners to see where 5G antennas should be deployed to minimise interference rather than a costly exercise of trial and error. The platform will even include future building applications so testers can even see the impact over an extended period of time.

The consortium claims the predicted performance of a 5G network can be done within minutes.

“The purpose is to deploy 5G quickly and efficiently,” said Andrew Loveless, OS commercial director. “Linking OS data to spectrum information and meteorological data will deliver faster speeds and better coverage to connected devices, all the while helping keep rollout costs to a minimum.

“In creating a highly accurate digital model of the real world, with added in attributes and intelligence, OS is taking mapping and data visualisation to unprecedented new levels with what can be achieved, complementing the government’s Digital Britain strategy.”

Last month, Matthew Hancock spoke of the need for the UK to have a pure fibre network and 5G connectivity and he expressed his hope that the digital mapping platform would help achieve this goal.

“Our ambition is to be a world leader in 5G technology, which is why we are investing in research and demonstration initiatives like this groundbreaking 5G mapping pilot,” he said. “It’s is projects such as this which will make sure the UK can harness the potential of this exciting technology and help build the hyper-connected Britain we all want to see.”

The first commercial 5G networks are expected to go live at the end of the decade, bringing faster speeds, greater capacity and low latency.

“The consortium has world class and highly complementary expertise,” said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 5GIC. “We are looking forward to this collaboration immensely in developing a state-of–the-art planning tool that enable fast and cost-effective deployment of 5G network by industry.”

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