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World’s first urban 5G experience hosted by University of Bristol and Watershed

Press release issued: 15 March 2018

For the first time anywhere in the world this weekend [Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 March] people in Bristol will experience the next generation of wireless technology – 5G in a public urban environment. There will be spectacular 3D-like projections, a virtual reality dance piece, a guided tour on which people can take a walk through time, and a programme of talks and demonstrations that are open for everyone.

During the Layered Realities Weekend 5G Showcase researchers from the University of Bristol, with support from strategic partners Nokia and BT, and working with innovative UK technology businesses CCSL, Zeetta Networks and pureLiFi, will demonstrate how a share of £16 million investment by the UK Government's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to develop an end-to-end 5G network has the potential to revolutionise our digital experiences including communications, transport, productivity, education, public safety, inclusion and creativity and puts Britain at the forefront of the next wave of mobile technology.

Hosted by the University’s Smart Internet Lab, Watershed and We The Curious, the event is a unique 5G public test-bed that will take demonstrations out of the laboratory and allow people to experience and experiment with the creative possibilities for the first time

The Smart Internet Lab is one of only three research institutions in the UK chosen to develop this cutting-edge technology and, in collaboration with Watershed, will be providing artistic experiences of 5Gs capabilities through a series of public events.

Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol said: “We are really excited to be hosting this weekend’s public event.  This is a unique chance, thanks to the close co-operation of our technology partners BT, Nokia, CCS, Zeetta Networks, and pureLiFi, for members of the public to experience the world’s first 5G urban network.  During the two-days citizens and visitors at Bristol will have the opportunity to discover how this new network technologies will transform the way we live, work and study in our cities.”

The Smart Internet Lab demonstrations visitors will experience include:

  • Smart city safety for residents using an end-to-end 5G network;
  • A real time transmission sent from a connected autonomous vehicle (CAV), parked in Millennium Square;
  • More efficient sharing of wireless channels that will greatly boost network capacity and performance whilst reducing network congestion;
  • How light can be used to transmit high-speed secure mobile data without the use of radio frequencies.
  • How radio signals travel from 5G base stations to a mobile device. By using ultra high-resolution 3D city maps, these new tools will mean better 5G coverage throughout a city.

During the weekend University researchers will show how smart city safety could operate.  Cyclists will be in Millennium Square wearing 360-degree cameras that are streaming in real-time to a Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) terminal or cloud. 

Dr Aloizio Eisenmann, Senior Research Associate in the University’s Smart Internet Lab, who has been leading this part of the 5G test-bed, said: “The aim with this 5G application is to reduce delay in processing real-time sound and vision.

“During the event the public will see it being used through bicycles, but the technology could just as easily be used by people on foot, scooter or a drone. In the future it could be developed to tackle specific issues, such as helping to find missing people or criminals through a face recognition system, which could lead to safer cities for everyone.”

Cormac Whelan, CEO of Nokia in the UK and Ireland, added: “As 5G comes ever-closer to commercial reality, the opportunity to contribute to a ‘real world’ test of the technology like this in Bristol is invaluable. With the UK’s exciting ambition of becoming one of the first European markets to launch 5G, Nokia is thrilled to be working with the University of Bristol and with BT to make this public demonstration happen and to evaluate how the technology will work in a smart city such as Bristol.”

Mansoor Hanif, Director of BT’s Converged Services Lab, commented: “We’re delighted to be part of such a forward-thinking project; 5G has real potential to transform how people interact with urban environments and we look forward to learning how these technologies perform in a live, public setting. The outputs of this test-bed will help inform our choices as we move towards more widespread deployment of 5G in the UK.”

The Layered Realities Weekend 5G Showcase will take place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 March from 12 noon to 5 pm with two-days of free events in Millennium Square and We The Curious.  The 5G showcase will bring together the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab and Watershed, We The Curious, BT, Nokia, Zeetta, Cambridge Communications Systems, pureLiFi and Bristol Is Open (BIO).

Further information

About the Smart Internet Lab
The Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol, is a hub for internet research which addresses grand societal and industrial challenges. With more than 200 experts and advanced laboratory infrastructure, we perform cutting edge research on optical and wireless communications.  We offer a unique holistic approach to hardware and software co-design solving critical problems in the global internet evolution. Our innovative research on end-to-end, wired-wireless network design and optimization is pushing the boundaries of digital living and communications. Our exceptional track record for performing 5G research with specific focus on fibre and 5G convergence is evidenced by significant funding from the UK Government, EU and industry (e.g. EPSRC TOUCAN, INITIATE, NDFIS, EU: 5G-Xhaul, 5GPICTURE, mmMAGIC, FUTEBOL, FLAME and 5GinFIRE, DCMS UK Government).  

About Watershed 

As the leading film culture and digital media centre in the South West, Watershed advances education, skills, appreciation and understanding of the arts with a particular focus on film, media and digital technologies. Watershed develops cultural engagement, imagination and talent, in the belief that the route to better futures is open, disruptive and co-produced. With audiences and participation at the heart of our organisation we produce and present original ideas and content and curate a diverse programme of talent development, cinema exhibition, events and festivals.

About 5G
5G is a reinvention of the internet for an always connected, interactive world. Above ground, it will include the next generation of wireless connectivity - offering massively increased speed, capacity and reliability compared to 3G and 4G. In addition, 5G represents a range of interconnected technologies which will supercharge the internet, offering a huge increase in bandwidth, allowing more things to connect at once, and reducing latency. This will enable near real-time interactivity across home, work and public spaces, adding up to a smarter internet where data is gathered and analysed locally as well as in the cloud.

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