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Surrey University opens 5G Innovation Centre with pioneering demos

Surrey University cuts the ribbon on its 5G Innovation Centre and shows off some early technical advances with video streaming and IoT technology

Surrey University, alongside its technology partners and mobile operators, has opened its 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at its Guildford campus.

Three years in the making and backed by more than £70m of investment, 5GIC has attracted support from suppliers Fujitsu, Huawei and Samsung among others, and all four UK mobile network operators.

The centre’s objective, said director Rahim Tafazolli, is to bring together academic expertise and industry partners to define and develop the future 5G network.

Tafazolli’s team has developed technology capable of delivering speed of one terabit per second (Tbps) – more than 1,000 times faster than current 4G network speeds – and filed more than 15 patents.

“The true impact of 5G will come from the innovative applications the network will enable, some of which are yet to be realised,” said Tafazolli.

“The opening of the centre marks an important step in allowing those from across the globe to work with us in developing the network and for partners, other universities and industry to test their applications in a real-world setting before they are brought to market.

“The ethos of the centre is not built on competition, but co-operation. 5G will be achieved through global collaboration so that everyone will benefit from working to a single standard,” he added.

The 5GIC has already created a fully-functioning test-bed 4G network to further explore future networking technology. This network stretches across the university’s campus and will be open to other departments and students, as well as the 5GIC teams.

This network will be upgraded to deliver 10Gbps per cell – 10 times faster than the highest 4G speed – by 2018, and will ultimately evolve into a fully fledged 5G network.

To give an idea of its potential, Huawei demonstrated ultra-high definition (4K) video streaming to a mobile device over a mobile network enhanced with 5G radio computing architecture-based cloud radio access network (RAN) technology.

It also showed off the potential of a new radio waveform called 5G Sparse Coding Multiple Access (SCMA) to support treble the number of connected internet of things (IoT) sensors than currently possible with 4G.

Tong Wen, Huawei principal scientist and wireless chief technology officer, said: “We are committed to researching and developing future technologies that help build better connected societies, businesses and economies, and ensuring 5G is a success is essential in achieving this. The 5GIC will play an important role by helping us start testing foundational 5G technologies as early as possible.”

Read more about 5G research and development

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