South East: UK 5G research to benefit from £5m Huawei investment

Chinese networking firm Huawei, with its headquarters in Reading, is to invest another £5 million to help build the world’s first 5G test facility.

The test bed, located in the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) in Guildford, will take just over one year to complete and will be built in three phases.

The first will be operational by April 2015 and be used by researchers and the industry to develop and test 5G technologies. Huawei will provide expertise and equipment for large-scale radio access for the test bed.

The first phase will focus on developing a cloud-based radio access network for an ultra-dense network providing large amounts of capacity to end users. The 5GIC project promises speeds of between 1Gbps and 10Gbps, 10 times what is currently on offer to end users.

With the test bed in place, 15,000 students and staff at the University of Surrey will have access to a live 5G infrastructure covering the whole campus. The plan is to demonstrate 5G technologies before 2018.

The investment is part of the firm’s $600m it has committed to 5G research and innovation globally by 2018.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of 5GIC at the University of Surrey, said the test bed will be used to develop proof of concepts, validate standards and test vendor interoperability.

“It will be progressively upgraded as 5G technology emerges, to allow the next wave of applications and services to be explored. The facility is open to partners from anywhere in the world, and we will also be introducing a low-cost way for SMEs and startups to test their innovations for 5G compatibility and showcase their products to a wider audience,” he said.

Minister of state for culture and the digital economy Ed Vaizey said: “The UK is at the forefront of 5G development thanks to initiatives like this collaboration between the University of Surrey and Huawei. This will help maintain Britain’s position as an international home for innovation and put us at the heart of the development of the next generation of mobile technology.”