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Huawei injects £5m into UK’s 5G research lab

Chinese phone maker Huawei has invested £5m in the UK’s 5G research facilities at the University of Surrey. 

The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre – 5GIC – based in Guildford is currently trialling 5G services with input from a number of partners including the BBC, BT, EE, Fujitsu, Samsung, Telefonica and Vodafone. 

Huawei’s investment will allow 5G technologies to be tested in real-life as well as lab-based environments and help the mobile industry define a standard for the future service. 

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Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Head of 5GIC at the University of Surrey, said: “This world-leading test bed will be used to develop proof of concepts, validate standards and test vendor interoperability. It will be progressively upgraded as 5G technology emerges, to allow the next wave of applications and services to be explored.

“The facility is open to partners from anywhere in the world, and we will also be introducing a low-cost way for SMEs and startups to test their innovations for 5G compatibility and showcase their products to a wider audience.”

The first stage of testing, due to be completed in April 2015 will involve developing and verifying a cloud-based radio access network to see whether the tech would work in densely populated areas like London, where 4G often struggles at the moment.

A 5G network will then be implemented on the University of Surrey Campus when the tests have been completed in September, although this live network isn’t expected to launched until 2018.

It’s thought 5G will provide mobile broadband speeds of up to between 1 gigabit and 10 gigabits per second and this research will help lay down some ground rules for the tech when it’s expected to launch commercially in 2020. 

Recently Korean tech giant Samsung delivered gigabit speeds to a mobile broadband unit in a moving car in its latest 5G trial. 

Besides allowing for incredibly fast downloads, it’s expected that 5G will allow for things like smart cars to communicate with devices in the home and smart city grids to better manage rush hour traffic.  

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