Buried towards the bottom of the UK government’s announcement early last month of £65 million of new funding for rural and industrial 5G, part of a £200 million government fund for 5G testbeds in the UK, was detail about the country’s biggest industrial 5G trial.
In among other innovation projects – variously focused on farming, policing, and tourism – the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) revealed an additional £3.8 million of funding for the 5G ENCODE in Bristol, in the UK’s southwest.
The new funds bring the total for the 5G ENCODE project to £9 million, making it the UK’s largest trial of industrial 5G. The project will investigate three key industrial 5G use cases to improve productivity and effectiveness of composite design and manufacture: interactive augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR); asset tracking across multiple sites and locations; and industrial system management.
The project will make use of slicing technologies from Zeetta Networks for use with private and public networks. A private 5G testbed is being built within the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol the various use cases. The learnings will carry over into public network based slicing arrangements.
Zeetta Networks is leading the effort. A consortium of 10 other companies – including Telefonica, Siemens, Toshiba, Solvay, and Baker Hughes, as well as the National Composites Centre (NCC), the University of Bristol, and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) – is also involved.
The project aims to deliver “real-life impact” by September 2020, and runs until March 2022, when similar commercial 5G deployments are expected across a variety of manufacturing hubs in the UK.
Vassilis Seferidis, chief executive at Zeetta Networks, commented: “Zeetta has a strong track record of delivering 5G solutions based on our network splicing and slicing technology which is a key enabler in delivering multi-domain orchestration across public and private networks for a seamless and customised delivery of 5G services.
“The ability to dynamically slice and dice the resources of the network according to the demands of users and applications is the fundamental difference between 5G and older technologies and it is expected to play a transformational role in improving industrial productivity.
Enrique Garcia, chief technology officer at the NCC, said: “An industrial scale 5G test bed at the NCC will showcase a step change in security, reliability and connectivity, providing companies of all sizes a risk-free environment to evaluate and capitalise on the capabilities offered by 5G.
“This programme affords us and our industrial partners a unique opportunity to collaborate with prominent experts in the telecommunication, digital and software industry. We are delighted to be a part of such a rare multi sectoral consortium.”