Bristol set to host UK’s first live 5G trial

Bristol is set to host the UK’s first live 5G trial [Image: spainter_vfx via iStock]

The University of Bristol, BT and Nokia will deploy a live 5G-based proof of concept designed to test and validate smart urban applications over next-generation mobile networks in Bristol city centre.

According to the university, the test network will run over Bristol City Council’s dedicated fibre infrastructure around Bristol’s Millennium Square.

The University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab recently received funding from the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme from the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to establish the 5GUK Test Networks.

Taking place over the coming months, the test network will be used to explore and validate the deployment of 5G architecture that integrates existing technologies with innovations such as Massive MIMO radio access solutions, software-defined networking, network slicing and edge computing nodes functionalities.

As well as allow operators to use multiple antennas to boost the capacity of wireless networks, these technologies will enable them to split a single physical network into multiple virtual networks. This delivers reliable and high-capacity services to several applications and vertical sectors.

The initial deployment is set to examine the optimum models for 5G, as part of future urban dense networks that will maximise coverage and speed. This will be achieved using a combination of research and commercial solutions, such as Nokia's AirScale and AirFrame infrastructure.

Future activity will focus on the use of 5G as an enabler of the Internet of Things, while examining areas such as immersive tourism and connected transport.

Neil J McRae, chief architect at BT, said: "Now we're gaining a real-world understanding of how 5G can be used within dense urban environments. This is crucial to building meaningful use-cases for future macro-scale 5G networks.

“5G is teaching us that collaboration is essential and we're pleased to be working with experts from Nokia and the University of Bristol to lead research into technologies such as Massive MIMO and Network Convergence and enhance our understanding of the role 5G networks will play in building the connected cities of the future."