5GUK Test Networks

Research area 5GUK Test Networks
Dates 1 July 2017 - 31 March 2018
Funder DCMS 
Contact person Professor Dimitra Simeonidou

A world-class 5G technology test network is aiming to put Britain at the forefront of the next wave of mobile technology, potentially adding up to £173 billion to the economy by 2030. The University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab, along with 5G experts from the University of Surrey and King's College London has been awarded £16 million by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to develop a cutting-edge 5G test network.

The universities will work together to create three small-scale mobile networks which will form the test network. The '5GUK Testbeds and Trials Programme' will deliver a 5G end-to-end trial in early 2018, testing the capability of 5G to make an application or service work in a real-world environment.

The project will build on existing research and will mark the first steps towards developing a new national '5G Innovation Network'. 5G is expected to deliver reliable ultrafast mobile connectivity with the ability to process huge amounts of data and support complex applications predicted for tomorrow’s mobile phones - for example, sending virtual reality 3D TV clips to mobile devices.

The challenge to industry has been the rapid growth in the use of data in mobile and fixed networks replacing the conventional modes of communication. These have been addressed through recommendations by NGMN ‌as a group of global telecom operators, that has further been captured as 5G requirements in four use cases by the 3GPP‌ specification body. These use cases are:

  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband, for example around fixed mobile convergence, higher data rates and device density.
  • Network Operation, which is of special interest here at UoB.
  • Critical Communications, with improvements mainly needed around latency, reliability and availability.
  • Massive Internet of Things, which focuses on use cases with a massive number of devices (e.g. sensors, actuators and wearables).

5G image for leaflet

The technologies deployed to deliver 5G networks have to comply with a wide and varied range of performance parameters. The University of Bristol’s 5G test network enables network slicing as a service, as seen in the Network Operation use case. This approach introduces a new dimension of creativity as the basis of network slicing, whilst delivering telecommunications use cases through use of Network Function Virtualisation along with Software Defined Networks.

This in turn enables the delivery of services in the above four use cases. Using the same infrastructure in a 5G network, we can deliver a number of services based on different network slices operating concurrently within the same network infrastructure as in Network Operation use case. That is in one layer, we deliver services for the Enhanced Mobile Broadband use case; while in another network slice, we deliver high and/or low throughputs, demanding Ultra Low Latency Reliable Services as in the Critical Communications use case. This way, the same infrastructure can be deployed with varied communication services as different slices within that infrastructure. We can also deliver a number of virtual networks which are grouped for different business demands and serve a large number of devices, forming the Massive Internet of Things use case.

This project brings together experts of the Smart Internet Lab and in particular members of the CSN Research Group and HPN Reseach Group in the Faculty of Engineering, here at the University of Bristol (UoB). To find out more about the 5G Expertise at the University of Bristol, please visit our research pages. 

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