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Forget about 4G – £35m funding for 5G research centre

Despite the fact that 4G mobile internet will only begin its roll out in a few weeks, those is the mobile industry are already keen to take mobile connectivity a step further, investing £35 million in a 5G Innovation Centre.

Mobile operators, infrastructure providers and the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund have come together to provide the capital needed to begin research into 5G, with the work already underway and headed by academics at Surrey University.

Is 5G connectivity needed?

Speaking to the BBC about the project, Prof Rahim Tafozolli, director of Surrey University’s Centre for Communications Systems Research, argued that 5G is needed in order for the mobile industry to cope with soaring rates of mobile data traffic. He said:

“The boundaries between mobile communication and the internet are blurring, so the fifth generation is internet on the move. 4G for us is old hat. We started working on 4G ten years ago. Being a university we have to be one step ahead of industry.”

“It looks like every year the traffic is doubling. Unfortunately capacity is not doubling every year. We need to come up with technology, within the limited radio spectrum that we have, to accommodate this huge surge.”

How does 5G trump 4G?

According to Prof Tafozolli, 4G will be good for the next ten years, but we could see 5G introduced by 2020 as it is a more economical option than 4G.

“The cost of electricity of running the networks is very high,”

“We are facing systems which are too expensive. We need something extremely energy efficient and cost efficient.”

Everything Everywhere (EE) has announced a launch date of 30 October for 4G LTE, which will initially roll out across ten major UK cities. Other network providers are due to roll-out their own 4G networks by spring next year.

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