A new government-backed testing facility is being created in Oxfordshire, offering UK businesses the chance to tap into the potential of 5G and satellite technology.
The engineering hub is set to be built by the IT and business consultancy CGI in the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.
It is being backed by over £3m ($4m) of government investment and is due for completion in 2021.
The new site will both provide a base for UK researchers and businesses to experiment and a testing facility to showcase the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks.
The government aims to roll out the techniques to other businesses across the UK.
Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “This new state-of-the-art facility backed by government funding will enable our brightest researchers and engineers to better understand how 5G can help connect us all, creating new business opportunities, while delivering green efficiencies across the UK.”
The centre is being backed by a European Space Agency contract, and as part of the development CGI is working with BT (BT-A.L), Avanti Communications and the University of Surrey on a project to see how it can connect rural communities to 5G in the most affordable way possible.
5G is the next generation of wireless mobile connections, following on from the 4G networks currently used by smartphones across the globe.
Space and tech companies are focusing on 5G as it allows for a broad range of applications across industries, including Internet of Things technology and augmented reality, all of which can be applied to manufacturing, public safety, enterprise and communications software, and entertainment and gaming.
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Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA, said that an investment in space “will improve life on Earth.”
She said: “ESA’s novel 5G Hub will showcase how space technology enables connectivity, partnering with industry to foster innovation in the realms of autonomous vehicles and smart cities, and to enable machines to exchange information with one another via the Internet of Things.”
In October three UK employers pledged to create 5,000 tech-related jobs. Liberty Global (LBTYA), the owner of Virgin Media, and O2’s parent, Telefónica (TEF), unveiled plans to create 4,000 jobs in the UK and another 1,000 apprenticeships to accelerate the rollout of 5G.
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