Three UK unis get £16m to build 5G network

Thursday, 24 August, 2017

The government has given £16 million to three leading UK universities to build one of the country’s first 5G broadband test networks.

The Universities of Surrey, Bristol and Kings College London will build three small-scale mobile networks that include the receivers and transmitters to handle 5G signals.

Then commercial trials can start to investigate how revolutionary new technologies using 5G could work, including self-driving cars, advanced robotics, remote surgery and smart homes where every device from fridges to door locks to heating controls are connected together with WiFi.

5G is expected to be at least 10 times faster at transferring data to mobile devices than 4G.

More: EE switch on 429Mbps 4G+ in Cardiff, London

As of August 2017 EE has the fastest mobile download speeds in the UK with its 4G network. It recently turned on its 4G+ service in the Welsh and English capitals.

As part of the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab we’ve been developing some amazing 5G technologies.

For example, we hold the world record for spectral efficiency with our 5G Massive MIMO basestation.

Working with our industrial and academic partners, we aim to show off some of the incredible new services made possible by 5G networks.

- Professor Andrew Nix: Dean of Engineering, Bristol University

What does 5G mean for you?

For the home consumer, 5G will mean a whole host of things will become possible on your phone that weren’t before.

These will include being able to get delay-free video chat with friends anywhere in the world, more ability to play massive multiplayer online games with no lag, and more IoT integration in the home.

It may also mean that mobile broadband overtakes fixed-line broadband nationwide.

The economic impact of this game-changing technology is difficult to predict.

Research from government quango the Future Connectivity Challenge Group suggests that if the UK takes early advantage of 5G it could add £173 billion to GDP between 2020 and 2030.

What will this 5G test network do?

While you and I might have to wait until 2019 or even 2020 to get our hands on a working 5G device, this £16m test will have a trial network ready for industry testing in early 2018.

American 5G scientists have already demonstrated that you can stream 4K HD video to a car moving at 60mph, so the possibilites really are endless.

MAIN IMAGE: Smart Internet Lab/University of Bristol

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Tom is a tech journalist and former Editor at