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A 5G facility is set to be built in Oxfordshire

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UK businesses will be able to tap into the potential of national 5G and satellite technology as a new testing facility is being created.

The engineering hub, set to be built by the IT and business consultancy CGI at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, is being backed by over £3 million of Government investment and due for completion in 2021.

Providing a base for UK researchers and businesses to experiment, the new 5G hub will provide a testing facility that can show the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks. The hope is that once the technology is demonstrated the techniques can be rolled out to other businesses across the UK.

“This new state-of-the-art facility backed by government funding will enable our brightest researchers and engineers to better understand how 5G can help connect us all, creating new business opportunities, while delivering green efficiencies across the UK,” said UK’s Science Minister, Amanda Solloway.

5G connectivity promises a lot, with faster data speeds and less latency across networks.

Space and tech companies are focusing on 5G because it allows for a broad range of applications across industries, including Internet of Things technology and augmented reality, all of which can be applied to manufacturing, public safety, enterprise and communications software and entertainment and gaming.

This new facility will develop software that allows satellite networks, including low earth orbit networks, to be integrated into terrestrial public and private communications networks. This will create new business opportunities for application developers and mobile network providers.

The centre is being backed by a European Space Agency contract, and as part of the development CGI is working with BT, Avanti Communications and the University of Surrey on a project to see how it can connect rural communities to 5G in the most affordable way possible.

“Adding satellites to existing terrestrial 5G infrastructure is essential to ensure a reliable and safe telecommunications network that supports such connectivity, which in turn promotes a seamless and more environmentally friendly experience. Investing in space improves life on Earth,” said Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA.

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