Bristol University gets its own 5G network

By Kevin Thomas 28 September 2015

5G work underway in Bristol

The 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey isn’t the only UK institution working on 5G, as the University of Bristol is focused on it too.

According to the Bristol Post the university has received £540,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop 5G technology across the city.

The university has set up a closed 5G network between Temple Meads train Station and At Bristol and the money from the EPSRC has been used to buy two radio channel emulators which will be used to test the effectiveness of 5G technology.

Professor Andrew Nix, dean of engineering and head of the communication systems and networks group at the university, said: "These emulators are vital. They allow us to replicate, in our laboratory, the radio channel between a city base station and a mobile device – this allows us to test the quality of your Internet connection before any 5G base stations and mobile devices even exist.

"Using these emulators we can design and test different 5G waveforms and antenna technologies in a virtual version of Bristol."

But that’s just one part of the University of Bristol’s work on 5G. It’s also a part of the European 5G-XHaul project, which aims to collaboratively research effective and affordable 5G solutions which could ultimately bring an end to coverage blackspots.

Professor Nix explained that: “This three-year project will provide a unique platform for collaborative research and validation of new optical and wireless architectures and methodologies for the ultra-fast and seamless delivery of 5G and beyond connectivity.”

One key area the university is looking at is the design of 5G signals, especially as the frequencies used by 5G are likely to be high and weak.

Professor Nix said: "The higher the radio frequency, the weaker the received signal. To overcome this we are working on beam steering technology. 4G networks transmit radio signals everywhere, but with beam steering we focus the 5G radio signals directly on your phone or device. Think of it like focusing a beam of light from a torch at an object - this is the plan for 5G."

But once these problems are overcome and 5G is rolled out, which Nix expects will happen between 2020 and 2025, it could revolutionise mobile technology and beyond.

Speaking to the Bristol Post, he said: "It will have massive implications for people across the world. You might have an elderly person living with 5G enabled sensors and cameras in their home. These can call the emergency services if they detect an accident or medical problem."

"At the university we're also working on driverless cars, where 5G will enable vehicles to talk to each other, to pedestrians and cyclists, and with city infrastructure such as traffic lights. Safety will be dramatically improved along with reduced congestion and pollution. 5G networks are set to revolutionise how we live."

About Kevin Thomas

Editor at 5G.co.uk

Kevin Thomas has worked in the world of Telecom reporting for over 17 years. He reviewed the first 3G phone way back in 2003, reviewed the first 4G phone in 2012 and now he's keen to welcome in the first 5G phone too. Kevin previously worked for over 15 years within the Telecom industry including: AT&T in Europe, BT in the UK and Phillips in the Netherlands. He holds a HND in Telecommunications.

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