5G Innovation Centre officially opens at the University of Surrey
The University of Surrey yesterday opened its state-of-the-art 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), securing the UK’s role in leading the development of the next generation communications technology, 5G.
Housing over 170 researchers and attracting over £70 million of investment, including £12 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the 5GIC is the world’s largest academic research centre dedicated to next generation mobile and wireless connectivity.
The Centre brings together leading academic expertise and major industry partners to define and develop a global 5G network that will radically change lives across the world. Through their work, they have already developed a technology that enables speeds of one terabit per second (Tbps) - more than 1,000 times faster than the highest 4G speed, and filed over 15 patents.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Director of the 5GIC, said: “While we have already achieved record-breaking speeds, 5G is not only about delivering faster mobile internet. It is a transformative set of technologies that will radically change our private and professional lives by enabling innovative applications and services, such as remote healthcare, wireless robots, driverless cars and connected homes and cities, removing boundaries between the real and cyber worlds. These capabilities make 5G a ‘Special Generation’ of connectivity.
“The true impact of 5G will come from the innovative applications the new network will enable, some of which are yet to be realised. The opening of the Centre today marks an important step in allowing those from across the globe to work with us in developing the new network and for partners, other universities and industry to test out their new applications in a real world setting, before they are brought to market.
“The ethos of the Centre is not built on competition but cooperation. 5G will be achieved through global collaboration so that everyone will benefit from working to a single standard. This technology will then be commercialised from 2020, driving economic development and research for the UK, while delivering research that will impact the world.”
Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “The development of 5G presents a significant economic opportunity and this world-leading centre will position the UK at the forefront of research into the next generation of communications technology. The Government wants Britain to be the best place in Europe to innovate and we are committed to supporting collaborations like this one to ensure pioneering research continues to improve people’s lives.”
Video of the future
Opening alongside the Centre is the 5GIC’s new testbed facility, providing researchers with a fully-functioning advanced 4G network. Over time, it will be upgraded to include fully-fledged 5G technologies and large scale Internet of Things (IoT). By 2018 the testbed will be able to deliver 10Gbs/per cell, ten times faster than the highest speed available over 4G.
To demonstrate the potential of the testbed, 5GIC researchers and partners are today unveiling a pioneering wireless technology performing mobile streaming of ultra-high definition video.
Developed in partnership with Huawei, BBC R&D and the 5GIC, ultra-high-definition (4k) video will be streamed to a mobile device over an enhanced outdoor mobile network, providing a first major step in delivering the expected capacity of 5G.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli explained: “Using evolved hardware and software, the demonstration showed the capabilities 5G could hold for bandwidth hungry applications such as ultra-high definition video on the move. This provides much higher quality, less compressed images than 4G/LTE, streamed to a mobile device or television.”
5G Supporting the Internet of Things (IoT)
Another key demonstration is focused on the requirement for 5G to provide the necessary “backbone” to connect the billions of devices which will form the future IoT, supporting thousands of devices per square kilometre in addition to smart phone usage. The demonstration shows how a new (5G-Sparse Coding Multiple Access) radio waveform can support at least three times the number of IoT devices than would be possible with 4G. It is a great example of how the newly opened 5GIC testbed can be used to trial real 5G IoT applications, illustrating the level of improvement in network capacity that can be expected from a 5G network.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”