BT, University of Warwick drive 5G innovation for economic recovery

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BT, University of Warwick and Warwickshire County Council are collaborating to bring 5G innovation and co-development to the University campus and the wider region, stimulating regional economic growth and post Covid-19 recovery.

This innovation alliance has enabled BT to switch on the UK’s first dedicated public 5G network for a connected campus, bringing ultrafast 5G mobile coverage to University students, staff and visitors across the 720-acre site and to people in surrounding areas through its EE mobile network.

The commercial 5G installation is the first phase of a strategic alliance between BT and the University to accelerate the co-creation of 5G led capabilities within the campus and for industries across the UK.

The installation of a public 5G cell site on University of Warwick’s main campus will mark the University as an early adopter of 5G technology and a testbed for research, industry and consumer 5G use case development. As a leading research University with over 30,000 students and staff, EE’s public 5G network will further enhance Warwick’s research and student learning and experience whilst also bringing 5G’s faster speeds, reliability and response times to people in neighbouring areas.

In a further step, the company will soon extend 5G network coverage to the University’s Creative and Digital Communities incubator, to support creative and digital companies working with the University and those located in the Leamington Spa area. Leamington Spa’s ‘Silicon Spa’ games industry cluster will also benefit from a focus on esports and gaming.

Fotis Karonis, CTIO of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “University of Warwick is renowned for its world- leading research and innovation, so its status as the first public 5G connected university campus in the country is very fitting. With the 5G network now live across the entire campus, we’re gearing up to accelerate the co-creation of innovative 5G use cases in a partnership with University of Warwick. This will not only benefit its faculty, student experience and academic R&D, but will also shape 5G learning and co-creation for key business industries across the UK.”

David Plumb, the University of Warwick’s Chief Innovation Officer said: “This powerful innovation alliance with BT gives Warwick the advantage of being an early adopter of 5G technology with a significant partner. Our public 5G connected campus will: support new areas of research; enable new teaching technologies; help us to support even more regional businesses; and it will add to students’ campus experience be it in teaching, esports or simply through an enhanced performance on mobile devices.”

Councillor Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this collaboration and support the piloting of 5G infrastructure. It enhances the county’s offer as a centre of cutting-edge technology which is key to attracting the inward investment that will drive our future economic growth.

“I’m particularly pleased to see the coverage extending to Silicon Spa area in Leamington. This will be a real boost to the cluster of gaming companies based there which make such a strong contribution to the county’s economy and which are a major employer of young people, whose employment prospects have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”

BT and University of Warwick deliver 5G use cases across CAM, medical tech and e-gaming

The University has already commenced a number of activities to draw on 5G technology.

Together, BT and University of Warwick will help deliver Europe’s first Connected Autonomous Mobility (CAM) demonstration over a public 5G network. The demo, being undertaken by WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) at University of Warwick, will explore Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication scenarios with two connected autonomous pods exchanging live data feeds; including LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data and live video alerts of road obstacles, to enhance future road and pedestrian safety.

The transport and mobility sectors are expected to gain heavily from 5G as the high-speed network and low latency connectivity will enable transportation to become faster, smarter and safer. BT is combining its network expertise with WMG’s leading work in the manufacturing and transport technologies to understand the behaviour and movements of connected autonomous pods, powered by 5G technology.

BT will also work with the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering to pioneer 5G for medical technology. 5G connectivity will enable the health and social care sector to effectively care for patients remotely and in real-time – a trend which is accelerating as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the healthcare sector. The School of Engineering will explore how 5G could be used to help people and monitor their ‘Health and Wellness’ throughout their normal daily activities. In addition, The Institute of Digital Health and Warwick Medical School will also look to understand how 5G might have positive impacts on the healthcare sector.

BT’s development of 5G in the gaming and esports industry (combined with AI, IoT and data analytics) will also reap significant benefits from this new 5G collaboration with the University of Warwick. University of Warwick students are the winners of The British University Esports Championship and Warwick is the first University to hold the UK e-sports University of the Year title. The nearby town of Leamington has also become known as Silicon Spa because of its significant cluster of video gaming companies many of which employ University of Warwick graduates.

5G development for economic recovery

The insights gleaned from the use cases will be used to stimulate innovation across the various industry sectors both in the region and across the UK. By doing so, BT and University of Warwick will help empower, inform and inspire Warwickshire and West Midlands businesses to develop further 5G use cases and applications within their own industries. This will kick-start growth on those regions which will be even more essential in driving a vibrant local economy following Covid-19 and beyond.

Together BT, the University of Warwick and Warwickshire County Council are launching a series of streamed events to help businesses develop fresh thinking and new possibilities from 5G.

EE, part of BT Group, recently switched on 5G in 12 additional towns and cities across the UK including the first 5G service in Warwick, cementing its position as the best network in the UK, with 112 5G locations now live.