30 Nov 2020

Hybrid 5G and satellite communications test facility to be built in Oxfordshire by 2021

European Space Agency-backed facility will explore the potential of 5G and satellite technology.

A new engineering hub at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire is planned for completion in 2021, backed by government funding, and will provide a base for UK researchers and businesses to experiment. The new 5G hub will provide a testing facility that can show the benefits of hybrid 5G and satellite communications networks, with the goal that once the technology is demonstrated the techniques can be rolled out to other businesses across the UK.

Seeking to harness the transformatiion in connectivity that 5G will bring, such as connected and autonomous vehicles and accelerating the green revolution, the testing facility will develop software that allows satellite networks, including low-Earth orbit networks, to be integrated into terrestrial public and private communications networks. 

Satellite telecoms networks can address unique connectivity challenges, by bringing a fast data network to places where cables will not reach, from remote villages to disaster zones. 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.

Matthew Evans, Markets Director, techUK, said:

"This facility is another indication of the UK’s commitment to being a global leader in 5G innovation. Hybrid solutions such as these could be a powerful way of providing connectivity and services to hard-to-reach areas across the UK, as well as enhancing the capabilities of our space sector to global markets."

Sophie James

Sophie James

Programme Manager, Communications Infrastructure and Services, techUK

Julia Ofori-Addo

Julia Ofori-Addo

Programme Assistant, BSG, Central Government, Financial Services Team, Comms Infrastructure, techUK