5G is coming of age

5G infrastructure is much more than just a mobile connectivity service, it is a communication ecosystem that will provide fibre-like speeds to a wide range of industries. Now, across the globe, a host of dedicated, hybrid commercial-private, mmWave, LTE and 5G-ready networks are operational or in the process of being rolled out. These networks will provide connectivity for smart cities, health care, creative industries, manufacturing, mobility and telco supply chains, as well as defence and security, opening up exciting opportunities for a wide range of new use cases.

Unlocking 5G potential with pilot projects

Currently, there are a number of 5G pilot projects going on in the UK, including the Government’s flagship 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme that covers a range of applications, including connected communities, transport and security, and manufacturing. The aim of these projects is to demonstrate the value of 5G, beyond enhanced mobile broadband, by targeting industrial uses that can help deliver efficiency, productivity, and other benefits to the UK economy, and help the UK lead the development of enterprise applications for 5G.

Take for instance the 5G RuralFirst project that trialled new wireless and networking technologies, spectrum sharing, and new applications and services across

the Orkney Islands, Shropshire and Somerset. The project investigated whether 5G connectivity could be rolled out in hard-to-reach rural areas where Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have limited engagement due to low return on investment compared to urban environments.

Another one is the Liverpool 5G Create project with Blu Wireless, which saw the deployment of mmWave technology to provide coverage in densely populated city streets. The project has built a private, independent 5G mmWave network in and around Kensington, Liverpool, to support 5G-enabled health, social care and education applications for the local community.

Liverpool 5G’s ‘network-of-networks’ is itself a unique technology. A hybrid consolidation, it uses mmWave backhaul, LoRaWan, and more recently, Telet Research’s 5G small cell network and roaming technologies. Designed using a bespoke simulation-based network planning tool and supporting multiple, innovative health applications, the project has already generated significant new IP.

5G connectivity for emergency services

Right now, public safety LTE networks are playing an integral role in ongoing response efforts to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, the FirstNet communications platform is being leveraged to deliver voice, data, video, and location services for first responders and medical teams – including mobile telehealth to facilitate remote screening and monitoring. It can also provide temporary coverage and capacity expansion for testing sites, quarantine centres and healthcare facilities using rapidly deployable cellular assets and in-building wireless systems.

Many other national-level trials have recently come to light too. For instance, The Royal Thai Police’s LTE network, Finland’s VIRVE 2.0 mission-critical mobile broadband service and France’s PCSTORM critical communications broadband project all support police forces, emergency services and the national guard with critical operations.

A game changer for defence

The ability of 5G networks, particularly high bandwidth, low latency robust mmWave ones, to connect millions of devices per square mile as opposed to a few thousand for 4G, is particularly relevant to modern use cases like perimeter security, defence and reliable public safety operations. Blu Wireless’s mmWave equipment operates in the unlicensed band, between 57-71 GHz. These mmWave frequencies enable wireless connections to perform at a fibre-grade level, without the hassle of having to lay fibre.

A wireless link that is high capacity, covert and secure, has the potential to be more resistant to external jamming and interference from hackers. While no network is impenetrable, operating at 57-71 GHz provides the opportunity to adaptively tune the covertness and vulnerability of the network with narrow beams and beamforming features, making it particularly suitable for a number of defence applications.

These include applications powered by AI, and satellites that can provide communications support in disaster areas or remote locations. Electronically sharing data between these technologies at speed enables the military and first responders to work faster, and potentially save more lives. It can also be deployed for counterterrorism efforts as it enhances data processing and can counteract the inevitable efforts by criminals to intercept confidential data. With 5G mmWave, defence organisations can stay one step ahead.

In the near future, the public transport we use, the services we rely on day in and day out, and the future of the UK’s economy and security will all come to rely on high-speed 5G connectivity.

If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with us today.