The BT Labs at Adastral Park in Suffolk has celebrated 40 years of telecoms innovation, commemorating the opening of the company’s global R&D headquarters in November 1975 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The site, formerly known as the Post Office Research Station Martlesham Heath, was opened on 21 November 1975, as a new centre for telecommunications research, replacing the wartime Dollis Hill research station in North London.
In the following 40 years, work at BT Labs has focussed on developing the communications landscape in the UK and across the world. BT’s R&D and technology team is 14,000-strong today and continues to work on projects relating to broadband, optical fibre, mobile, network security and TV.
BT invests around £500 million in research ad development every year, making it one of the largest investors in R&D of any company in the UK and globally in the telecoms sector. BT Labs has spearheaded the development of new fibre based technologies which have been deployed across the UK by Openreach, BT’s local access network business.
BT research and innovation has recently been exploring how future forms of immersive video entertainment and how this could enhance the overall TV viewing experience. It teams have been examining user experience challenges, as well as technical challenges related to the capture, delivery and presentation of new immersive entertainment experiences.
Another focus has been on UHD services, and UHD pictures with higher dynamic range. New technologies around these potential standards are being developed to address this greater range of brightness, and work is needed to understand the changes needed throughout the end-end video delivery chain, from cameras capturing a wider dynamic range, all the way through to TVs that can deliver much brighter pictures than they are currently capable of.
Dr Tim Whitley, MD research and innovation and Adastral Park, said: “It’s mind-blowing to look back over the past forty years at BT’s record in innovation. And I’d like to thank BT’s incredibly talented pool of scientists and technologists – both past and present – for their efforts in constantly pushing the boundaries.
“Without their hard work, the technological advancements that we continue to make in the field of fibre broadband, high capacity core networks, mobile, network security, M2M communications and TV just wouldn’t be possible.”
Adastral Park is now home to more than 70 technology companies, from global players to small start-ups, and around 4000 scientists, IT experts and engineers work on the 100-acre campus.