Brighton 5G Testbed

Brighton becomes UK’s latest 5G testbed

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Alice Cruickshank

Innovation centre Digital Catapult has revealed its collaboration with Wired Sussex and the University of Brighton to build the first UK 5G non-university based testbed.

The 5G programme in Brighton aims to provide research and development, and testing of real world deployment of the latest in connectivity technology. This is the first time a 5G testbed in the UK won’t only be used for research purposes.

Brighton-based small businesses will have the opportunity to trial 5G mobile wireless communications, to test and explore the potential new applications of 5G, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technologies.

The testbed was funded by a 2017 £1.2m government grant, delivered through a Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership. This initial funding has been further extended by £300,000 which is being set aside specifically to engage with small to medium businesses, helping them to develop future 5G solutions. The project is in partnership with Wired Sussex, a tech membership organisation based in Brighton.

The Brighton facility will provide an environment where startups and scaleups can access the most advanced digital technology solutions, including an ‘immersive lab’. Digital Catapult and partners encourage local companies to register to take part in using the testbed to develop their ideas.

British businesses set to trial 5G in Brighton include engineering consultancy Ricardo and mixed reality startup Mnemoscene.

Digital Catapult is a UK innovation centre for smart city tech. Its aim is to accelerate the development and testing of innovative business models that exploit, and push the boundaries of 5G, as a crucial component of advanced digital infrastructure. Digital Catapult provides physical and digital facilities for experimentation and testing, as well as innovation programmes, and projects to connect small businesses and researchers, such as the Brighton project.

Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, explains: “The 5G Brighton testbed lets companies experiment with new applications and services which take advantage of the unique nature of 5G. This is a major step forward in the wider roll out of this advanced technology, helping take the technology out of university labs and into the market.

“5G represents more than just faster internet on the move, it’s the first mobile technology that, by design, enables free standing setup in individual locations, offers new companies the opportunity to control their own networks, and enables operators to manage computing at the edge as a new business model for the future.”

Sophie Dixon, co-founder of Mnemoscene, commented: “Mnemoscene is excited to be given the opportunity to develop the use case for 5G at the testbed. There are many dynamic startups like ours in Brighton and this testbed gives us a real opportunity to innovate using this potentially groundbreaking and disruptive technology.”

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