University of Sussex tests ‘100 times faster’ 5G successfully

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Initial tests on the next generation of mobile technology with the capability of delivering 100 times faster broadband have been successful, engineers at the University of Sussex and collaborators from telecom consultancy firm Plum have confirmed.

Engineering experts are pleased with the successful completion of measurements of the indoor coverage of 5G signals at the University of Sussex. The tests are an important step in establishing the capability and ironing out issues with 5G which is expected to be commercially available as early as next year in the US and by 2020 in the UK.

Professor Maziar Nekovee, Head of the Department of Engineering and Design at the University of Sussex, said that the introduction of 5G had the potential to be far more transformative than the arrival of 4G a decade ago with huge possibilities for industrial automation and Robotics for manufacturing which could deliver a huge boost to UK productivity. 

In a keynote speech this week at the 5G Industry Summit in Shanghai, Prof Nekovee said:

“With phase one of 5G global industry standards just being completed which focuses on 5G enhanced mobile broadband, research is now moving to address 5G technology  to support ultra reliable and ultra low-latency connectivity for “vertical industries”, such as automotive and industrial automation.

“Our research is focusing on these new frontiers of 5G, as well as investigating future deployment by operators, including indoor coverage and spectrum coexistence in newly assigned 5G frequencies in 3.5 Ghz and lower mm-wave bands.”

Customers can look forward to data-rates at least 20 times faster than 4G, with the new 5G wireless technology tipped to help radically speed up roll-out of fibre broadband coverage in the UK which is currently being hampered because of the significant costs of laying cables into millions of homes.

5G Fixed-Wireless Access technology will have the capability of covering multiple homes from mobile base stations placed in residential or rural neighbourhoods with the potential for peak data-rates of up to 1 Gbps.

5 things you need to know about 5G

Ofcom’s first 5G spectrum auction was completed in April 2018, with EE, O2, Vodafone and Three all winning some spectrum.

Some countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and the US are claiming they will launch 5G networks later this year (2018) or early 2019. However, UK rollout is set to begin in 2020.

Top-end 4G networks, known variously as 4G+, LTE-A or 4.5G, can deliver peak download speeds of 300Mbit/s. 5G promises to offer speeds in excess of 1Gb/s (1000Mbit/s), with many estimates placing it closer to 10Gb/s (10000Mbit/s).

Vodafone UK has unveiled seven cities that will become 5G test areas, with roll-outs starting between October and December this year. This includes customers in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

The new technology will enable you to download a full HD movie in less than 10 seconds. The same task would take closer to 10 minutes on 4G.

Dr Falah Ali, course leader of an International Masters in 5G mobile communications launching at the University of Sussex later this year, added:

“5G is much more than just evolution to the next generation of mobile communications technology. It will empower new functionalities for people, society and enterprises. It is expected to provide fibre like data rate with massive system capacity and ultra-reliable and extreme real time communications vital for many emerging applications including the Internet-of-things, driverless cars, virtual reality, eHealth, tactile internet, and smart cities.

“5G is going to be the future and it will be here with us very soon and so that is why we here at the University of Sussex are conducting advanced research on 5G to help develop the expertise to deliver its’ full potential. We are also offering a very unique new Masters’ course in 5G mobile communications and intelligent embedded systems to provide up-to-date knowledge and skills vital to the current developments in modern society, and so graduates be well equipped for a wide variety of employment in the industries underpinning these developments”.

Chris Price