A University of Surrey-led proposal to create a premier world research hub for 5th Generation mobile communication technologies (‘5G’) in the UK takes a significant step closer to being realised with the announcement today of £35 million new research funding.
The funding bid, made by the University to the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), for £11.6 million in government money is underpinned by an additional circa £24 million from a consortium of key mobile operators and infrastructure providers including - Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde-Schwarz and AIRCOM International - bringing the total funds available to £35 million. The money will be used to develop a specialised 5G Innovation Centre to stimulate significant expansion in UK telecommunication research, development, innovation and the provision of broadband mobile internet services, with significant downstream benefits for economic growth.
‘There are massive challenges and opportunities facing the sector,’ says Professor Rahim Tafazolli, one of the UK’s leading communications experts, who also heads up the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR).
‘The global telecommunications industry, valued at $2.1 trillion per annum, is already responsible for 6% of world GDP. Mobile communications data traffic is expected to increase 1,000 fold by 2020, by which time there will be an estimated at least 50 billion Internet-capable devices,’ says Professor Tafazolli. ‘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. Such unprecedented data traffic growth requires the urgent introduction of new 5G advanced technologies that maximise the use of the limited available radio spectrum and provide for Greener technologies and solutions.
‘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. 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.’
‘The announcement of this funding success is a major coup for the University, its industry partners and the economy,’ says Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey. ‘The new 5G Centre of the calibre set out in our bid will enable the UK to lead this rapidly expanding segment of the global digital economy. Locally, it will bring yet more momentum to the already significant growth in the clusters of established and new high tech businesses on our Surrey Research Park. Finally, and very significantly for us, it consolidates the leading position of our own Centre for Communication Systems Research in Europe and paves the way for the further development of our long-term strategic partnerships with major global telecommunications organisations and significant inward investment into both Surrey and the UK.’
Welcoming news of the announcement, David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) says: ‘Such funding recognises the long-term investment EPSRC has made in our top research and innovation centres, strengthening the links between EPSRC, universities and business. It will provide the vital tools to help the UK’s best scientists make new discoveries more quickly and drive future innovation.’
The University of Surrey is already playing a pivotal part in the Government’s drive to attain a 10% share of the world satellite applications market, estimated to be worth £40 billion by 2030, through its close links with the world’s leader in small satellite manufacturing, Surrey Satellites Ltd. The new 5G Centre will provide a unique facility which will not only attract international telecoms giants to conduct research and development on new 5G standards in the UK, but will also link to the new satellite communications developments and to the Government’s Connected Digital Economy initiative.
Notes to Editors
1) The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) is dedicated to supporting large-scale capital projects from higher education institutions which secure significant co-investment, for example from private sector, charities and endowments. This investment will be anchored in research infrastructure, but could also have broader benefits.
The objectives of the funding are to:
a. Enhance the research facilities of higher education institutions undertaking world-leading
b. Encourage strategic partnerships between higher education institutions and with other
organisations active in research.
c. Stimulate additional investment in HE research.
d. Strengthen the contribution of the research base to economic growth.
2) The University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR), supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is based on the University’s Stag Hill Campus in Guildford and is the UK’s largest and most well-known academic research centre in mobile and satellite communication systems. Established for over ten years as one of a number of autonomous research centres at the University, it now houses some 130 researchers including around 90 PhD students.
CCSR research is focussed on future communication systems including:
- mobile and wireless communications
- satellite communications
- networking (management, protocols and security).