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5G Testbeds and Trials Programme highlights 2021

  • 7 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 15 Dec 2021
  • Last modified 14 Dec 2021
It has been a busy yet successful year for The 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme

Projects have harnessed the power of fast-changing technology and as a result, contributed to the UK’s leadership position on the world stage. UK5G spoke to nine participating projects about their highlights of the year. 

5G RuralDorset win big at Connected Britain

The project’s aim is to explore how next-generation connectivity can benefit people that live and work in rural areas and this was recognised with three Connected Britain awards at this years’ conference in September for 5G Initiative, Sustainability and Barrier Removal.

In awarding the 5G initiative prize, the judges made particular mention of the project’s research into the future of food including the development of the world’s first 5G connected agricultural robots. They were also impressed with the innovative approaches being explored in deploying infrastructure in sensitive areas which includes the world’s first 700 MHz standalone 5G network. This work brings important connectivity to emergency services along Dorset’s beautiful but often dangerous coastline and also provides digital signage that informs the public of sea conditions and safety information.

The project also scooped awards for its considerations around sustainability, especially the efforts being made to use 5G technology to reduce the use of chemicals in farming, and for exploring efficient deployment through its AssetHub work, which aims to map existing assets and reduce the cost of rollouts.

5G Festival Project redefines the music experience

As 2021 draws to a close, Digital Catapult has had the privilege of being involved in several projects exploring the potential of 5G to unlock new experiences and commercial opportunities across the UK.

A notable highlight for the team was completing not one, but three successful trials for the 5G Festival project. Thanks to the power of 5G, the most recent trial saw experienced session musicians seamlessly collaborating across three different locations, 60 miles apart, with a live audience. The trial also tested a mixed reality audience experience, transporting at-home audience members to the centre of the Brighton Dome auditorium.

5G-ENCODE launches 5G network: The UK’s largest 5G investment in manufacturing to date 

5G-ENCODE—a pioneering project that aims to make the benefits of 5G a reality for UK manufacturers—announced the launch of its 5G network at the National Composites Centre (NCC) on 30th November 2021. This is the UK’s largest 5G investment in manufacturing to date, deploying 5G Standalone and ORAN technologies. The 5G network forms a core part of the NCC’s industrial digital engineering testbed, exploring future connectivity benefits and value on behalf of the industry.

Stakeholders from across the industry, including project partners and prospective network users, joined the event to see the testbed in action. The event featured live demonstrations of the 5G-ENCODE use cases including augmented reality and virtual reality to support design, manufacturing and training; monitoring and tracking time-sensitive assets; automated performing technology; and wireless real-time in-process monitoring and analytics. The state-of-the-art 5G testbed is open for use to organisations who are interested in accessing the technology and capability on offer.

Project VISTA enhances the fan experience via 5G

The Project VISTA event—held at the O2 Blueroom on Sep 15th 2021—was the first opportunity for key stakeholders and the press to see the developing 5G VISTA technology come to life with high quality, multi-stream viewing of an exhilarating British Touring Cars race. 

The technology allowed attendees to get closer to the action by providing them with several different perspectives of the race: including views from the cockpit, the view from the starting grid and from the stands. The demonstration showed the potential for the 5G broadcast technology to enhance the fan experience and create an innovative and exciting new dimension to live sports. 

The event was the first step for the project in working towards a full live demonstration event in Spring 2022 which will allow viewers access to an unprecedented amount of content, via an app, from a choice of multiple camera angles to in-depth background information.

5G Connected Forest: A world first 

“It’s been a fantastic year of progress for the project despite the challenges of continuing to work through a pandemic,” said Callum Jones, Digital Engagement Officer.

UK care homes enjoy The Eden Project

The Eden Universe is very proud to have delivered on the use cases planned as part of 5G Create, including onsite AR experiences for its customer experience exemplar and live-streamed lessons using 360 Cameras as part of the educational exemplar.

Following the rollout of its Health & Wellbeing exemplar, where the team brought the Eden Project to life digitally in three different care homes using iPads, projectors and VR headsets, the Eden Universe project received some lovely feedback from one of the sample groups.

Estelle, who has severe dementia, is "loving" it. After each video ended, she wanted to watch another.

Lisa (care assistant) was so delighted to see how excited and ‘lit up’ Estelle became when watching it.

The Eden Universe Platform of experiences is now live and ready to reach multiple locations as an expansion of the project, and in January will be delivering the experiences to care homes in Liverpool as part of their collaboration with Liverpool 5G.

Orkney residents get a taste for 5G

5G New Thinking’s testbed network in Orkney is now live and is supporting trials in two remote island areas that have historically had poor digital connectivity. Orkney-based project partner Cloudnet IT Solutions Ltd has worked tirelessly over the past several weeks and months to build and install six masts along with the associated electrical power, backhaul connectivity, and access radio hardware. The overall network coverage is some 30 km2, spread across five islands in two distinct ‘clusters’.

As part of the trial, 5G New Thinking has been recruiting members of the public who will benefit from free superfast broadband in their homes for five months. The team is currently working with the trialists to understand their experiences with the solution provided and to gather real-world speed information.

5G Edge XR launches futuristic extended reality experiences 

5G Edge XR has made impressive progress: developing extended reality (XR) experiences, building on 5G connectivity and Edge GPU capability - for industry verticals including health, construction, education and Sports production.

The collaborative project is developing a suite of use cases that highlight the value that 5G, GPU and spatialized sound bring to augmented reality experiences. The press has been very receptive to the stories of 5G Edge-XR. DanceEast has generated some interest, both in technology titles and within the trade media.

Another highlight, of course, is the project being shortlisted in the IABM Awards, in the Project, Event or Collaboration category.

MANY acts as a much-needed national voice for rural residents

Over the last year, Mobile Access North Yorkshire has given a national voice to rural residents who currently lack reliable and robust connectivity via our partners – Lancaster University Management School. This contact has enabled MANY to get a true understanding of the possibilities 5G could bring to rural areas whilst developing an appreciation of how to run complex projects when engaging with communities, which was highlighted in the early findings report. This has resulted in the development of a Community engagement toolkit, which is due to be released in the coming weeks. 

The project via lead technical partners Quickline Communications has worked closely with international OEMs providing them with an opportunity to access one of the first in the world 5G Stand Alone networks. This has given them the chance to test their equipment in the field rather than in a laboratory. The network is now in beta testing in Coverdale and is due to go live in a few weeks.

Do you have a  5G Testbeds and Trials Programme 2021 highlight? Please get in touch!