UK leading the way to a 5G future

In a world first initiative, the UK’s Ordnance Survey (OS) is set to create the UK’s digital twin – a smart map for a smart future.

UK invests in 5G tech

The new planning and mapping tool will be instrumental for the national rollout of 5G technology – the next generation of wireless communications needed to bring Internet-connected devices into everyday life.

OS will lead a consortium that includes the 5G Innovation Centre and the Met Office, and together they will be building a ‘digital twin’ of the real world, which will be used to determine the prime locations to place the radio antennae (access points) necessary to enable a 5G network. The planning and mapping tool will be trialled first in Bournemouth, and if successful the tool has the potential to be scaled up to cover the rest of the UK, and shared with other countries as they develop their own 5G networks.

Surveying for parts of Bournemouth, UK, which is a test bed for the national rollout of 5G, is already underway and will be used to generate the new model. The intelligent mapping tool trial will support the town’s aim to build on its success as Digital Council of the Year 2015 by becoming one of the first places in Britain to have 5G coverage.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock says: ““Our ambition is to be a world leader in 5G technology, which is why we are investing in research and demonstration initiatives like this groundbreaking 5G mapping pilot. It is projects such as this which will make sure the UK can harness the potential of this exciting technology and help build the hyper-connected Britain we all want to see.”

Supporting IoT and the smart cities of the future

OS Commercial Director, Andrew Loveless, says: “The purpose is to deploy 5G quickly and efficiently. Linking OS data to spectrum information and meteorological data will deliver faster speeds and better coverage to connected devices, all the while helping keep rollout costs to a minimum. In creating a highly accurate digital model of the real world, with added in attributes and intelligence, OS is taking mapping and data visualisation to unprecedented new levels with what can be achieved, complementing the government’s Digital Britain strategy. It is a smart map for a smart future.”

Networked sensors and beacons will depend on seamless access to the 5G network. The higher frequencies offered by 5G deliver significant increases in bandwidth that these devices will demand. Higher frequencies have a shorter range, and so a huge amount of equipment is needed to support the network and make it robust. Industry sources have suggested thousands of sites will be needed with higher frequencies to assure widespread national 5G coverage.

Higher frequencies also mean much larger amounts of data can be sent and received than at current mobile frequencies. This ability to transfer large amounts of data is important for meeting the increasing demand for bandwidth brought about by the growth of the internet, and it is vital to the future success of new tech concepts, including smart cities, the internet of things (IoT) and driverless vehicles.

Edited from press release by Cecilia Rehn.

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