UK invests $35m in six 5G testbed projects

The UK government is to invest about $35m in six projects to test 5G across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, in-home healthcare, manufacturing productivity and self-driving cars.

Each testbed will receive between £2m and £5m ($3m to $7m) in government grants as part of a total investment of £41m from private and other public sector funding, to explore 5G technologies in high frequency spectrum and how they could affect these use cases.

Two of the consortium projects involve Blu Wireless, a developer of millimeter wave baseband IP.  One is the AutoAir 5G testbed for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV), which is focusing on delivering bandwidth to high speed vehicles (cars, buses and trains). The lead organization is Airspan Communications and it will make 5G technologies available for validation and development of CAVs at the UK’s vehicle test track at Millbrook. It will also investigate how these 5G high speed connectivity solutions could be transferable to road and rail transportation.

The other is a 5G testbed in Liverpool called Sensor City, focused on bringing gigabit broadband to deprived areas, to support services such as next generation healthcare. About 50 patients in a local hospital, and 150 users of adult social services, will have access to applications such as video monitoring, augmented by AI-based analytics which can spot behavioral anomalies or emergency incidents like falls in the home. It will deploy open source 5G networks, AI, VR and IoT across deprived communities in the Liverpool City Region.

Other projects are:

5G RuralFirst: Rural Coverage and Dynamic Spectrum Access Testbed and Trial
Lead organization: Cisco; Lead partner University of Strathclyde; Grant: £4.3m
This will deliver testbeds and trials to exploit 5G benefits for rural communities and industries like agriculture, broadcasting, and utilities, based primarily on the Orkney Islands, and in the farmlands of Shropshire and Somerset.

5G Smart Tourism
Lead organization: West of England Combined Authority; Grant: £5.0m
This testbed will focus on delivering enhanced visual experiences for tourists using AR and VR technology in major attractions in Bath and Bristol in south west England.

Worcestershire 5G Consortium – Testbed and Trials
Lead organization: Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership; Grant: £4.8m
With local businesses Worcester Bosch, and Yamazaki Mazak it will focus on ways to increase industrial productivity through preventative and assisted maintenance using robotics, big data analytics and AR over 5G.

5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT)
Lead organization: Quickline Communications ;Grant: £2.1m
5GRIT will be trialling innovative use of 5G technology across a range of rural applications, such as smart agriculture, tourism and connecting poorly-served communities, using shared spectrum in the TV bands and a mix of local ISPs and self-provision.