5G is not about speed - but we can provide the fastest wireless speed ever

5G is not about speed - but we can provide the fastest wireless speed ever

5G is expected to be available commercially by 2020

University of Surrey researchers have achieved the fastest wireless speed ever while developing a 5G network.

The breakthrough was made despite speed not being the main focus of the research being carried out at the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), which was founded by industry partners Huawei, Fujitsu, EE, Aircom, BT, Samsung, Telefonica, Vodafone, BBC, Aeroflex and Rohde & Schwarz

"We can provide the highest-ever speed wirelessly. Two hundred to 800 times faster than the fastest time in 4G - 0.1 terabits to 0.8 terabits per second," said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of 5GIC, at an event in London announcing the 'vision' for 5G.

The 0.8 terabit speed was achieved with a bandwidth of 100 megahertz and tested with 1024x1024 antennas, and is "implementable today", Tafazolli said. However, he pointed out that factors such as available spectrum and 100 MHz bandwidth will determine the actual speed delivered outside the research lab.

Tafazolli insisted that, despite the breakthrough, "speed is not the differentiator" between 5G and previous network generations, 2G to 4G.

According to the researchers, the 5G network will intelligently understand the demands of the user depending on the context, and allocate resources to ensure that the demand is met instantly.

It will also have the capacity to support the national critical infrastructure, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more prevalent.

This is why it needs to offer high capacity, low latency of one millisecond or less, high reliability and energy efficiencies, Tafazolli said. It will also be spectrum and system agnostic, and give all users a uniform experience, whether they are in the middle of a cell or at the edge.

"We do not start designing systems for the end device, we design for the end user," he added.

The new 5G network is expected to be available commercially from 2020. But rather than replacing previous networks, 5G will "coexist" with existing generations, Tafazolli said.

Live testing

The 5GIC is more than just academic research. The researchers are currently carrying out lab simulations and test emulations, and hope to run a large, end-to-end test of the technologies they develop on the University of Surrey campus in Guildford by April 2015.

The testbed will be completed by September 2015, during which time a live, 5G infrastructure network will cover the whole of the university's campus, providing 17,000 students and staff with the latest communications technology.

The test will be conducted in partnership with the industry supporters, for example Vodafone will provide the core network, BT and Ofcom will provide spectrum, Fujitsu will provide a cloud ICT infrastructure, Huawei will provide radio access network gear and Aircom will provide radio planning tools, performance and experience monitoring tools and optimisation tools.

Partners of the 5GIC have pledged time, staff and technical resources with a total value of more than £55 million. This is in addition to the £11.6 million that was provided to fund the centre by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) under the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).

Due to open in January 2015, the 5GIC wil be home to over 150 researchers and 100 PhD students.

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