Surrey University set to host global 5G technology centre

Surrey University is to host a global centre of research for so-called fifth-generation (5G) mobile data communications.

The UK is currently handling the auction of the 4G mobile spectrum, the first tranche of which is due to go online at the end of the month, offering average download speeds of around 40 megabits per second (Mbps). Although still not properly defined, 5G could achieve up to 200Mbps, with the first trials due in 2013 and full rollout in around a decade.

‘Although the UK played an active role in the creation of 2G [GSM] cellular standards, it has increasingly fallen behind in succeeding generations 3G and 4G standards,’ said Prof Rahim Tafazolli, from Surrey University’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR). ‘The university’s industry partners have identified this proposal as the single biggest opportunity for the UK to regain a world-leading position in the development of 5G technologies and for the development of vibrant businesses around the technologies.’

The funding bid, made by the university to the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF), for £11.6m in government money is underpinned by an additional £24m from a consortium of key mobile operators and infrastructure providers — including Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde-Schwarz and AIRCOM International — bringing the total funds available to £35m.

The initiative is part of the government’s drive to attain a 10 per cent share of the world satellite applications market, estimated to be worth £40bn by 2030, through its links with the one of Europe’s leading small satellite manufacturers, Surrey Satellites. The centre will provide a facility to attract international telecommunications giants to conduct research and development on new 5G standards in the UK.