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5G report finds expectation building in the UK ahead of network launch

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A report analysing the current activity of the UK’s burgeoning 5G sector has shown that interest in the network technology is ramping up ahead of its rollout over the next few years.

The UK government’s Innovate UK commissioned the report from Digital Catapult, which provides a first-of-its-kind snapshot and barometer to help the government and industry assess 5G activity and deliver on the UK’s 5G Strategy.

In addition to the immediate benefits for smartphones and mobile broadband, 5G could also prove to be a key technology for a number of future facing technologies such as driverless cars and IoT devices. 

While operators have not started constructing the infrastructure needed to make the networks a reality, they spent £1.4bn in April at spectrum auctions to secure the bandwidth that will be used for 5G. 

The report found that there are currently 39 academic institutions, 29 local authorities and 57 companies undertaking almost 200 5G-related activities in the UK.

The new projects are predominantly based in four areas of the economy: healthcare, transport, immersive technologies and manufacturing.

“These projects, activities and innovations indicate that the UK 5G ecosystem is gaining momentum,” Digital Catapult said.

Ian Campbell, Interim Executive Chair, Innovate UK, said: “This new report by Digital Catapult is the first to be undertaken in the UK and goes a long way to helping us understand how 5G development can help to create a world-leading digital economy for the UK.

“The Catapult, in its role as the country’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre, is perfectly placed to understand how the UK can maximise the immense opportunities from 5G.”

Dritan Kaleshi, 5G Lead Technologist, Digital Catapult, said: “The vision of 5G is much wider than an evolution of mobile broadband networks. This research shows that there are huge opportunities for 5G to unlock major economic and societal benefits in the UK.

“With so much 5G activity, there is an excellent backdrop for innovative startups and scaleups to explore how 5G can be utilised and start to experiment in building the products, services and immersive experiences of the future.”

Digital Catapult was set up by the UK Government in 2011 to connect large established companies with startups working with artificial intelligence, immersive technologies and future networks.

It has created a large-scale 5G testbed in Brighton, which is the first national, non-academic trial network that will enable startups to develop new business models, products, services and experiences.

In other news, scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have designed and fabricated a tiny, fast 28-GHz transceiver meant for stable high-speed 5G communications. The fabricated transceiver trumps previous designs in various regards by taking a new approach toward beam steering.

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