UK Government selects consortium to run 5G Innovation Network

Jon Mundy By Jon Mundy 23 December 2017

5G Innovation Network takes off

The UK government has announced the winning consortium that will run its new 5G Innovation Network.

Cambridge Wireless (CW), TM Forum and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) will launch the new initiative to bring together and promote the UK’s 5G ecosystem in early 2018.

The 5G Innovation Network will run alongside and also assist the existing 5G Testbeds and Trials Program. The latter has been funding initial 5G test networks around the UK in locations such as the Basing View Innovation Centre in Basingstoke and the FuseBox Innovation Hub in Brighton.

At the 2017 Spring Budget, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced its intention to create a UK 5G Innovation Network that would link up and market these and other 5G initiatives. Then, in October, it announced a competition to find a consortium that would run this 5G Innovation Network.

For more on the precise nature of this new 5G Innovation Network, read our 'What is the 5G Innovation Network?' guide.

It’s now been announced that the winning consortium will be led by Cambridge Wireless (CW), which will bring its experience as a top international wireless tech industry community to bear.

TM Forum, meanwhile, will supply expertise from its association of 850 communication and digital service providers.

5G.co.uk asked Paul Wilson of TM Forum what the company’s involvement with the 5G Innovation Network would entail. He replied: “TM Forum will help internationalise the work of the UK 5G Innovation Network, through its global network of Communication Service Providers”.

As a partner of Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) provides link-ups and opportunities through its UK network of businesses, universities, funders and investors.

Together, the consortium will help coordinate the various organisations working on 5G applications and services in the UK, as well as creating a 5G information hub for the industry. The 5G Innovation Network will also act as a marketing brand to help encourage 5G investment from outside the UK.

This three-strong consortium has already brought in associate partners Digital Catapult (a DCMS body), Real Wireless Ltd and DG Cities Ltd. It has also gained the support of key educational institutions involved in early UK 5G tests, including the University of Surrey, Bristol University, and King’s College London.

Alongside the news about its 5G Innovation Network launch plans, the UK government has taken the opportunity to update its wider 5G strategy. The renewed document largely summarises the progress that’s been made since the Spring Budget, but it does also mention a few interesting details, such as the government’s intention to form a "cross-government barrier busting task force" to tackle issues related to the deployment of telecoms infrastructure.

The report also makes clear the government’s frustration over the ongoing delays to Ofcom’s 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz 5G spectrum auction, which is down to litigation among the UK’s mobile operators. Evidently with this delay in mind, the updated 5G strategy document states that the government wants Ofcom to complete the licensing of the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands as soon as possible, and by the end of 2019 at the latest. This ultimatum pointedly includes "the resolution of any legal challenges".

Useful read: What Are 5G Testbeds

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