Harwell Campus 5G research facility gets financial boost to assist development of advanced communications for terrestrial and satellite-based broadband networks
The engineering hub, due for completion in 2021, will be built by IT and business consultancy CGI at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire and is being backed by more than £3m in government investment
It is intended to provide a base for UK researchers and businesses to experiment and offers a facility that can show the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks. The hope is that once the technology is demonstrated, the techniques can be rolled out to other businesses across the country.
Announcing the investment, the government said 5G connectivity was likely to “change the world”, and is considered the “next meteoric leap” in wireless communications. It pointed out that 5G networks’ intrinsic low latency had the potential to accelerate the green revolution needed to tackle climate change, paving the way for vehicles to swap data nearly instantly, aiding navigation.
In this regard, it cited the possible example of allowing a car to be able to begin to apply the brakes before a driver is aware of an accident.
“This year, staying connected has taken on a new, profound importance – from keeping in touch with loved ones and competing in Zoom quizzes, to helping us tackle Covid-19,” said science minister Amanda Solloway. “This new state-of-the-art facility, backed by government funding, will enable our brightest researchers and engineers to better understand how 5G can help connect us all, creating new business opportunities while delivering green efficiencies across the UK.”
The new facility will also develop software that allows satellite networks, including low Earth orbit (LEO) networks, to be integrated into terrestrial public and private communications networks. This, said the government, could create new business opportunities for application developers and mobile network providers.
It added that space and tech companies are focusing on 5G because it allows for a broad range of applications across industries, including internet of things (IoT) technology and augmented reality, all of which can be applied to manufacturing, public safety, enterprise and communications software, and entertainment and gaming.
The result, the government said, would be a “quick, affordable way of bringing a fast data network to places where cables will not reach, from remote villages to disaster zones”