Work Starts On University of Surrey-Led 5G Innovation Centre

5G - Shutterstock © glossyplastic

Operators, manufacturers and Ofcom back 5G centre, which is due to open in January 2015

Work on a new 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey’s main campus in Guildford has started, boosted by the support of a number of operators, manufacturers and infrastructure providers, with a view to opening in January 2015.

The new centre, which hopes to establish itself as a world leader in the development of mobile broadband technologies, has received planning perfmission and will eventually house 150 researchers and around 100 PhD students.

The centre will conduct research into 5G technologies and will test them across the university’s campus to see how they work in a real-life environment.

5G Innovation Centre

5G - Shutterstock © glossyplasticBackers include the BBC, BT, EE, Fujitsu, Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica and Vodafone, all of whom have pledged time, expertise and other contributions to the project worth more than £30 million. This is an addition to the £11.6m received from the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) under the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) in autumn last year.

“We have had an extremely busy year since the initial funding announcement last October, and we are delighted that the formal agreements are now in place and plans are under way to start turning the vision for a 5G Innovation Centre into a reality,” said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Head of the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR).

“The world desperately needs advanced technologies to connect the next generation of mobile users to the internet and to efficiently support billions of devices such as sensors and actuators which are important components of the Internet of Things.

“By bringing together leading academics with heavy-weight industry partners, I believe we can develop the technologies that are required to provide much-needed capacity, drive economic growth and actively contribute to and shape the future 5G system.”

5G rivals

UK communications regulator Ofcom is also among those to lend its support to the project, having already laid out its own plans to cope with the anticipated growth in data. It plans to eventually reassign the 700MHz bands currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) for ‘5G’ services.

“Ofcom welcomes the University of Surrey’s important initiative, which will help ensure that the UK is a global leader in developing a roadmap towards 5G,” said Steve Unger, chief technology officer at Ofcom. “It’s vital that Ofcom understands future technology evolution, which will help shape our strategy for managing radio spectrum in the years ahead.”

Earlier this year, one of the centre’s backers Samsung claimed it had successfully developed 5G technology that allowed data transmission speeds of up to 1Gbps over a cellular network and said it planned to accelerate research and development into the technologies with the aim of commercialising them by 2020.

Potential rivals to both the University of Surrey-led 5G innovation centre and Samsung could be the Chinese government-established 5G research group and the European Commission, which plans to invest €50 million to bring 5G to market by 2020.

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