The University of Surrey will create a premier world research hub for fifth-generation mobile communication technologies.
New research funding of £35m has been made available to the university, including £11.6m in government money from the University to the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), and an additional circa £24m from a consortium of key mobile operators and infrastructure providers.
The consortium includes Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde-Schwarz and AIRCOM International.
The money will be used to develop a specialised 5G Innovation Centre to stimulate significant expansion in UK telecommunication research, development, innovation and the provision of broadband mobile Internet services, with significant downstream benefits for economic growth.
"There are massive challenges and opportunities facing the sector," said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, one of the UK’s leading communications experts, who also heads up the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR).
"The global telecommunications industry, valued at $2.1tn per annum, is already responsible for 6 per cent of world GDP.
"Mobile communications data traffic is expected to increase 1,000 fold by 2020, by which time there will be an estimated at least 50 billion Internet-capable devices.
"The growth in the number of new applications running on the networks is accelerating, as ever more mobile devices become the preferred route for Internet access. Such unprecedented data traffic growth requires the urgent introduction of new 5G advanced technologies that maximise the use of the limited available radio spectrum and provide for greener technologies and solutions.
"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. 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 announcement of this funding success is a major coup for the University, its industry partners and the economy," said Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey. "The new 5G Centre of the calibre set out in our bid will enable the UK to lead this rapidly expanding segment of the global digital economy. Locally, it will bring yet more momentum to the already significant growth in the clusters of established and new high-tech businesses on our Surrey Research Park.
"Finally, and very significantly for us, it consolidates the leading position of our own Centre for Communication Systems Research in Europe and paves the way for the further development of our long-term strategic partnerships with major global telecommunications organisations and significant inward investment into both Surrey and the UK."
Welcoming news of the announcement, David Delpy, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said: "Such funding recognises the long-term investment EPSRC has made in our top research and innovation centres, strengthening the links between EPSRC, universities and business.
"It will provide the vital tools to help the UK’s best scientists make new discoveries more quickly and drive future innovation."
The University of Surrey says it is already playing a pivotal part in 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 close links with the world’s leader in small satellite manufacturing, Surrey Satellites.
The new 5G Centre will provide a unique facility which will not only attract international telecoms giants to conduct research and development on new 5G standards in the UK, but will also link to the new satellite communications developments and to the government’s Connected Digital Economy initiative.