Tracking the technologies used by the DCMS funded projects gives a great overview of just how much work is being done. As a research project, the DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials projects, along with some of the latest initiatives such as SONIC and West Midlands 5G, are looking at around 70 key technologies. We surveyed 30 projects to understand their technology priorities.
The project teams have told us which aspect of the 5G specification they are focusing on, the kind of spectrum licence they are using, aspects of their radio access network, whether their application is indoors or outdoors, technical subjects such as backhaul and aspects of the core they are deploying, and finally the general engineering or application focus of their project.
We asked everyone to prioritise against these categories by giving them marks out of 10. A mark of 9 or 10 indicated the highest priority.
It’s no surprise that the fundamental 5G features of increased bandwith, low latency and high desnity of devices in a cell came out on top. We saw that 83% of all the projects were focused on eMBB and more than half the projects rated this a 10. We saw 70% were prioritising low latency and 57% mMTC. Interestingly nearly half, or 13, of the projects are focusing on the location services that are enabled through release 16, the 2020 update to the 5G specification, which is not yet widely implemented.
We have found that 17 projects are utilising licensed mobile spectrum; a higher proportion are using shared access licences (19 projects) and 16, local access licences. Twenty projects are making use of a test and development licence issued by Ofcom. Of course, some projects are using a variety of licences. The survey has found that 11 projects are using mmWave spectrum and three projects identify this as a high priority.
As this is a 5G project, it is to be expected that 90% of the projects are deploying standalone 5G New Radio. More projects are deploying small cells (24) than macro cells (18) - some projects are, of course, using both. Across the 30 projects, there is a huge variety of use cases. Some, such as the seven rural projects, concentrate on outdoor installation, but 14 projects prioritise in-building applications. A recent Ericsson survey found that 70% of all operators worldwide had a fixed wireless access offering, and the DCMS projects are little different: 13 projects are deploying this type of access and this is the highest priority for three projects. Open RAN or multi-operator RAN is important for 19 projects and for six, this is the highest priority.
As one would expect, all projects are focusing on telecom innovation, with 20 projects covering neutral host applications - for six of the projects, this is their highest priority. Other network applications range from orchestration to carrier aggregation. We see that 18 projects (60%) are using mobile network operator core networks. A higher proportion (24 projects, 80%) are using a private network core, and for 18 projects this is the highest priority.
The first six projects have proven to be a tremendous springboard for 5G innovation, and with so many more now active it’s wonderful to see the diversity of technologies being deployed. We are just at the start of the 5G journey, so mapping the way is an important exercise. The graphics and numbers over the next couple of pages should give you a feel for this lead.
- 5G - AMC2
- 5G - Encode
- 5G Connected Forest
- 5G Edge-XR
- 5G Factory of the Future
- 5G Festival
- 5G Logistics
- 5G New Thinking
- 5G Ports - Port of Felixstowe
- 5G Rail Next
- 5G RuralDorset
- 5G Wales Unlocked
- Connected Cowes
- Eden Universe
- Green Planet AR
- Live and Wild: Filming with 5G
- Liverpool 5G Create
- Milton Keynes 5G
- Mobile Access North Yorkshire
- Multi-Operator Neutral Host
- NEC NeutrORAN
- Project Vista
- Smart Junctions 5G
- SmartRan Open Network Innovation Centre (SONIC)
- West Mercia Rural 5G
- WM5G - 5prinG - Application Accelerator
- WM5G - Health
- WM5G - Infrastructure Accelerator
- WM5G - Manufacturing - AE Aerospace - “Glass Factory”
- WM5G - Manufacturing - MTC
- WM5G Transport