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UK government backs 5G testing facility

Facility, based in Oxfordshire, will showcase the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks.

The UK government is investing £3 million in a new 5G engineering hub that will be built in Oxfordshire.

The facility will be built by the IT and business consultancy CGI in ESA-ECSAT at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

Its aim is to provide a base for UK researchers and businesses to show the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks. According to the government, the hope is that once the technology is demonstrated the techniques can be rolled out to other businesses across the UK.

This new facility will develop software that allows satellite networks, including low-Earth orbit networks, to be integrated into terrestrial public and private communications networks, creating new business opportunities for application developers and mobile network providers.

The centre is being backed by a European Space Agency contract, and as part of the development CGI is working with BT, Avanti Communications and the University of Surrey on a project to see how it can connect rural communities to 5G in the most affordable way possible.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “This year staying connected has taken on a new profound importance – from keeping in touch with loved ones and competing in Zoom quizzes to helping us tackle Covid-19.

“This new state-of-the-art facility backed by government funding will enable our brightest researchers and engineers to better understand how 5G can help connect us all, creating new business opportunities, while delivering green efficiencies across the UK.”