Plans for 5G Innovation Centre in Surrey move on to the next level

Monday 4 November 2013

A significant number of the world’s most notable mobile network operators, infrastructure and tools providers, media and communications organisations and the UK’s communications regulator have formally joined the University of Surrey in its ambitions to deliver a specialised 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) on its main campus in Guildford.

The consortium, which includes: Aeroflex, AIRCOM International, BBC, BT, EE, Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe, Huawei, Ofcom, Rohde & Schwarz, Samsung, Telefonica and Vodafone, has pledged  time, expertise and other contributions which together total more than £30 million. This will be added to the £11.6m that was awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) under the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) in autumn last year.

Together with the University of Surrey, they will conduct research into the development of advanced technologies for a 5G network of the future, to establish a world-leading position in mobile broadband communications and internet innovations. The project will include the development of a 5G “test bed”, based on the University campus, on which to test technologies in a real-world environment.

As a further boost to this major project, plans for the 5G Innovation Centre have now been granted planning permission and preparatory work to build the world’s first centre for research into the future of mobile technology is now underway on the University’s main campus in Guildford. With an expected completion date of January 2015, the centre will be built to high environmental standards and will be home to 150 researchers and around 100 PhD students.

Speaking about the recent developments with the 5G project, Professor Rahim Tafazolli, a leading expert in the field and Head of the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR), said: “We have had an extremely busy year since the initial funding announcement last October, and we are delighted that the formal agreements are now in place and plans are under way to start turning the vision for a 5G Innovation Centre into a reality.

“Undoubtedly, 4G technologies are revolutionising mobile connectivity in the UK and will continue to do so over the next decade, but it is extremely important for us to find innovative ways of coping with the levels of mobile communications data traffic that are expected to continue rising. We will use state-of-the-art 4G as the starting point for our work and complement this with even more advanced technologies which place the user at the heart of the design process.

“The world desperately needs advanced technologies to connect the next generation of mobile users to the internet and to efficiently support billions of devices such as sensors and actuators which are important components of the Internet of Things.

“By bringing together leading academics with heavy-weight industry partners, I believe we can develop the technologies that are required to provide much-needed capacity, drive economic growth and actively contribute to and shape the future 5G system.

“Ultimately, our vision is to provide a consistent and reliable mobile communications service and create the perception of ‘infinite capacity’ and, with our partners working alongside us, the University is looking forward to making this vision a reality.”

Partner comments

Li-Ke Huang, Technology Manager of Aeroflex, added: “We are delighted to be part of the 5GIC program that creates an excellent and unique platform from which to work with world-class researchers and companies in the mobile communications field. As a leading wireless network infrastructure test solution provider, Aeroflex is excited about having the opportunity to understand and tackle the new test and measurement needs and challenges of the future 5G technologies, and to developing and providing solutions for it.”

Stephen Bowker, Chief Technology Officer at AIRCOM International, added: “We are very excited and proud to be involved in this project, with such a prestigious line-up of academic and industry partners. The introduction of 5G technology will be an important development for the mobile industry. Recognition of this evolution from the academic community is fantastic and will ensure ongoing innovation for the future of the industry, with technologies that have been scientifically researched, developed and tested.”

David Salam, Director of Network Strategy at EE, said: “We’ve brought 4G to Britain to enhance the mobile data experience for consumers and businesses, and this technology will continue to evolve and advance over the next ten years. This very early investment in 5G ensures that we're all ready for the next step, and that Britain takes a leading position in the future of the global mobile industry."

Dr. Wen Tong, Huawei Fellow added: “We are very pleased to be one of the key partners in the establishment of the UK's leading centre in the development of 5G Mobile Communication and Internet Technologies.  Huawei, a significant investor in ICT innovation globally, has not only made a significant financial commitment to the Centre, but is also a key partner in developing the future strategy for research and development in this crucial and expanding sector of the world economy. We will collaborate with the research partners based 5GIC platform, to create cutting-edge radio technologies to meet the challenges and demand for massive capacity and massive connectivity for the emerging 5G market”.

Steve Unger, Chief Technology Officer at Ofcom, said: “Ofcom welcomes the University of Surrey’s important initiative, which will help ensure that the UK is a global leader in developing a roadmap towards 5G. It’s vital that Ofcom understands future technology evolution, which will help shape our strategy for managing radio spectrum in the years ahead.”

Dr. Yong-Suk Moon, President of Samsung R&D Institute UK, said; "The 5G Innovation Centre is believed to drive the development of core technologies for the next generation communication to provide citizens Gigabit experience. Samsung Electronics is happy to contribute to this 5GIC collaborative project together with the University of Surrey and participating companies."

Derek McManus, COO of Telefónica UK, said: "While we are yet to see the full potential of 4G, we’re seeing the appetite for better, faster, richer services growing by the day.  The University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre marks the first step in preparing for the next generation of digital connectivity, where we will see applications and services that are scarcely imaginable today."

Luke Ibbetson, Director of Vodafone Group R&D commented: “Vodafone is delighted to be a founding member of the 5G Innovation Centre and welcomes the launch of a world class UK-based research lab for future technologies. We look forward to working closely with the 5G Innovation Centre to develop next generation technologies that meet and exceed rapidly evolving customer demands."

Editors' Notes

Photographs from the formal signing of the 5GIC partnership agreement are available from the University of Surrey Media Relations Office. Please direct any requests of media enquiries to Karen Porter, Head of PR & Communications at the University of Surrey, Phone: +44 (0)1483 689314, or email  Alternatively, please speak to Mike Findlay, Media Relations Manager, on +44 (0) 1483 686076 or email

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