Three universities in England are to be given £16 million to build test networks and trial 5G mobile connections as part of government plans to boost the UK’s digital economy.
Experts from King’s College London and the Universities of Surrey and Bristol will develop the network to trial the capabilities of 5G connectivity and assess its viability as the support for smartphones and other devices of the future.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the technology could also be used in the future to help communicate with autonomous cars and as part of smart home and city infrastructure.
Minister for digital Matt Hancock said: “We want to be at the head of the field in 5G.
“This funding will support the pioneering research needed to ensure we can harness the potential of this technology to spark innovation, create new jobs and boost the economy.
“We know 5G has the potential to bring more reliable, ultrafast mobile connectivity, with quicker reaction times and larger data capabilities, and I’m thrilled to announce King’s College London and the universities of Surrey and Bristol have agreed to collaborate on this project.”
The DCMS said the the network, which is expected to begin testing in early 2018, would be used to help make the case for the deployment of 5G in the UK – a technology it says has the potential to add up to £173 billion to the economy by 2030.
Rahim Tafazolli, University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre director and the project lead said: “The University of Surrey’s 5GIC, University of Bristol and King’s College London are delighted to be delivering this initial project as part of the Government’s new 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme.
“This investment will ensure that the UK continues to be world-class in 5G innovation and development through to commercial exploitation.
“This exciting programme builds on significant investment and a strong foundation of 5G research and development across the three institutions.
“The programme will maintain and extend the UK’s leadership position in the race to transform many aspects of everyday life and business through digital transformation.”