The baton has been passed. As the Testbeds and Trials are coming to an end and the Supply Chain Diversity projects are ramping-up we’ve seen changes to the programme team, and as before there is a mix of those who’ve moved within government and experts from industry. It feels a bit like a new start in some ways.
And we also have a new name. What was 5G Testbeds and Trials is now the Future Networks Programmes. It’s a broader remit, we’ve grown from looking at what people might do with 5G to opening this up to a wider interest in future technologies. It now covers over 50 projects spanning a number of different interventions including the Open Networks Programme, Shared Outcomes Fund and 5G Testbeds and Trials. Within each of these there are a number of cohorts.
The first of the supply chain diversity programmes, FRANC – the future networks programme – is now well underway.
But it’s not just about looking forward. There is a lot of benefit in looking back. We are gathering the lessons learned from the implementation projects and assembling them for wider distribution.
Some of the examples are quite obvious. Two 5GTT projects (AutoAir and Liverpool) explored techniques to address point-to-point microwave backhaul connectivity to the radio cells. Airspan which makes cells, and the Bristol based company Blu Wireless which does high speed links worked on this together and have now formed to CoMP-O-RAN consortium as one of the FRANC projects. The result will be a new cell which will help companies around the world set up small networks in campus-like environments.
There is also a strong element of learning by doing, and understanding the need to be flexible.
With the Green Planet project, we made major changes to the remit. A complete change of direction, change of location, change of type of thing we were doing, because of what they were learning and because of the opportunities that arose
It’s the wider lessons and the wider audience where the work we are doing now can really make a difference for the future. The key learnings in using Local and Shared Licences – and the equipment to support them. The transition to 5G standalone and a selection of novel applications that use 5G were demonstrated at the March Birmingham Showcase event, including the Boston Dynamics robot dog and a handful with Augmented and Virtual Reality applications. It’s also about the building of a skilled community with 5G expertise.
The body of knowledge we are building with the programme is impressive but we have to make it both useful and used. This is a call to action for people working on the projects. Please make sure that you contribute to the lessons learned. And for both those on future projects and people working on digital connectivity in general, please make the most of what those who went before you.
Future networks programme