08 Oct 2012, Dan Worth, V3
Despite 4G networks not yet being available in the UK, a new research centre backed by £35m of funding is to begin work on 5G services that could be used in the future to meet ever-growing mobile data demands.
The 5G Centre will be run under partnership between the University of Surrey and mobile firms including Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, which owns O2, and Fujitsu Laboratories Europe. It will receive the funding from the government under its UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UK RPIF).
As part of this RPIF project the government has invested a further £200m beyond the original £100m announced in the budget, with several other projects, covering areas of metallurgy, healthcare, life sciences and chemistry research also given funding.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of the University of Surrey's Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR) said given the huge growth of mobile technologies and data usage on networks starting work on future standards for mobile technologies as soon as possible is vital.
"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," he said.
"Such unprecedented data traffic growth requires the urgent introduction of new 5G advanced technologies that maximise the use of the limited available radio spectrum."
He added that starting work on 5G technology should help ensure the UK becomes a leading nation on the technology and avoid the fate that has befallen its 4G rollouts.
"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," he said.
"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."
Ovum telecoms analyst Matthew Howett told V3 that at present a standard defining 5G doesn't even exist from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) so it was hard to know how the work would proceed but was a step in the right direction regardless.
"In terms of the actual technology, I suspect the focus will be on making more efficient use of the spectrum which will lead to more throughput and higher speed," he said.
"It's obviously good news for the UK in light of the long running 4G saga."
The announcement comes after a key week in the development of 4G in the UK in which the government, Ofcom and mobile operators agreed to bring the auction of 4G networks forward by six months.