The recent UK’s 5G Showcase event in Birmingham brought together more than 50 projects and 200 organisations in a celebration of achievements and lessons learned.
The UK’s 5G Showcase was hosted by UK5G, and supported by CW, KTN and TM Forum. Over 600 attendees learnt about how 5G can be harnessed to unlock benefits, ranging from supporting people to stay longer in their homes to driving productivity and reducing waste.
On the diversification side, a number of technical projects are pushing the boundaries of Open RAN architectures, developing testing capabilities across multiple modules, and exploring the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The inaugural event recognised and celebrated all that has been achieved over the past months and years of project collaboration, but also explored the lessons that have been learned. Key takeaways include looking at how those lessons could be carried across to activities outside the Testbeds and Trials Programme, identifying investment opportunities and reaching a consensus on how to take the UK from 5G innovation to early market adoption.
More than 50 exhibitors from across the United Kingdom brought along technology and real-life demonstrations, with an additional conference agenda packed with diverse panels and engaging talks. Topics ranged from valuable perspectives on the main investable opportunities in 5G services to the technological enablers that can be harnessed to unlock economic growth and enhance societal benefit. Delighted to be involved in this exhibition, CW showcased the 5G-enabled accelerator which helps businesses undertake cutting-edge research and development in key areas including electric vehicle charging, waste management and remote surgery.
The focus for the first day of this conference was the Adoption of Innovative 5G Use Cases and began with a welcome and introduction speech from Ros Singleton (UK5G Advisory Board) and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street. Opening Keynotes explored the main investable opportunities in 5G services and the technological enablers that can be harnessed to unlock economic growth and enhance societal benefit.
“Technology and innovation have turbocharged some of the gaps created by the last two years. I look to the future and think about the revolution that’s coming. It’s going to be bigger and faster than anything that’s come before. We’re creating a country that will be powered by super-fast and low latency connectivity.”
Katherine Ainley, Ericsson
The first session of the day - titled ‘5G in Creative Industries’ - was a celebration of the opportunities 5G brings within the creative sector.
“We tasked ourselves with sending footage from the film location to the edit…this is a gamechanger for filmmakers. The process has been amazing. We’ve been able to experiment in a way that we can’t in our day jobs, where we don’t have the option to fail.”
Patricia Doherty, Live + Wild
‘5G in Rural Places’ examined how we can invigorate and enhance rural communities through the adoption of innovative 5G service provision approaches, and ‘5G in Urban Places’ identified how to bring the benefits of 5G to urban spaces at scale, with an exploration of adoption approaches and technology choices. ‘5G in Industrial and Manufacturing’ explored the opportunities to scale advanced manufacturing processes and to enhance productivity through the adoption of 5G in industrial and manufacturing enterprises.
“5G is a key enabling technology to unlock business benefits.”
Steph Leaver, BAE Systems
The session titled ‘5G in Health and Social Care’ examined the successes of at-scale 5G deployments in health and social care, and speakers explored what 5G can uniquely offer the sector.
"There's a digital divide and we need to take everyone with us to stop people being excluded from health, education and social care."
Ann Williams, Liverpool City Council
‘5G in Transport and Logistics’ examined how 5G can enhance existing and new modes of transportation and improve logistics efficiency through the adoption of 5G. Topics explored raised the question…which uses cases are ready for scaling? The sessions concluded with a plenary session, giving speakers the opportunity to reflect on the UK’s 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, discussing key findings and insights.
"The projects have shared an enormous amount of value through disseminating information and key learnings... we've also had the privilege of working with some very special people."
Keith Bullock, DCMS
As the UK 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme comes to a close, UK5G wanted to celebrate the best in the business, and great efforts and determination everyone needed to overcome challenges! With over 100 entries from across the United Kingdom, The UK’s 5G Showcase Awards, hosted by Vicki DeBlasi (UK5G) was a perfect evening full of celebrations.
The prize for the ‘Best Potential for Business Impact’ was awarded to MONeH (Multi-Operator Neutral Host) for their demonstration of a disruptive business case through their application of 5G technology. The judges were impressed with the organisation’s creative ideals, which they believe have the opportunity to transform both current and future business processes. 5G Festival secured the award for the ‘Most Innovative Use of Technology’ for the efforts to transform the ability of physically separate artists to person in an immersive environment from different locations. Green Planet AR Experience came away from the showcase with the ‘Maximum Citizen Impact and Reach’ award.
Ann Williams (Liverpool City Council) was recognised for ‘Best Individual Contribution to 5G Industry Deployment’ as she demonstrates a great commitment to affordable and accessible connectivity. Dave Happy (5G RuralDorset) was rewarded for ‘Best Collaborative Engagement Across the Programme’. Throughout the programme, Dave has used his partnerships to skilfully develop robust links between 5G projects and the wider 5G community.
The focus for the second day of this conference was Securing the Long-Term Case for 5G: Enablers and Stimuli for Market Growth. The day began with a welcome speech from Ros Singleton (UK5G Advisory Board), followed by an International Keynote session. Speakers shared insights on the key enablers and stimuli required to achieve significant market growth of 5G services.
“Automation is a big deal for the 5G networks. It is where you can gain a lot of savings and achieve efficient operations. But the industry has a lot of challenges, and we need investment into the network. The internet is a human right and cost-efficient networks allow you to pass significant savings to consumers.”
Azita Arvani, Rakuten Symphony Americas
The plenary session took a forward look from DCMS and Ofcom at how the development of policy and regulation of mobile telecoms will create further stimuli to achieve significant market growth and societal benefit.
"The UK’s telecommunications network industry is placing emphasis on collaboration, with up to ten million from the government building on the terrific work of Future RAN and SONIC Labs. Utilising 5G and digital infrastructure will future-proof our economy.”
Julia Lopez MP
The session titled ‘Diversification and the Role of Open RAN’ reviewed the UK’s 5G supply chain diversification strategy, the latest DCMS diversification programme, the role of Open RAN and its current market adoption status. ’Fast-Tracking Innovation Through Accelerators’ brought both accelerators and investors to hear and discuss how they find, develop, grow, and invest in businesses. The speakers also covered their experience of going through the acceleration process.
Following a break for guests to look around the exhibition, the session titled ‘Private Networks and the Role of System Integrators’ was a hilarious and engaging ‘private networks surgery’ sketch. This was followed by a panel session exploring the challenges raised by private networks and giving a forward look at the likely course of growth of the private network market. The ‘Cybersecurity Challenges and Opportunities’ session delved into the security threat landscape for 5G solutions, consolidated knowledge gathered through the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme that could be used to counter these threats and provided calls to action to ensure that 5G systems are developed, tested, and maintained securely. The first of the final two plenary panel sessions – ‘Mobile Networks and Environmental Sustainability’ – provided insights into the green challenge for mobile networks and the role of wireless services in combatting the climate crisis, examining the issues arising from the UK 5G trials. Speakers also considered the specific approaches to lowering the RAN carbon budget and ask the question, are mobile networks part of the problem or the solution…or both?
“EE is on an aggressive path to net-zero by 2030, switching to renewables and decarbonising its buildings. We know what benefits ethos networks enable. In 2020, we helped our customers avoid thirteen million tonnes of carbon, which is the equivalent of three million homes.”
Mat Sears, BT
The final session titled ‘Future Looking – 6G’ considered the key research areas for next-generation wireless, including network diversification and convergence, open architectures and standards, and software isolation and sustainability.
This successful two-day event was concluded by Ros Singleton (UK5G Advisory Board), where she expressed her thanks to all of the chairs, speakers and exhibitors who participated in this event.
“Overall, what’s come across to me within the last two days is the feelings of collaboration, intent, and purpose. We need to go boldly where no person has gone before and try to reuse what we have learned.”
Ros Singleton, UK5G Advisory Board