Digital Catapult switches on Brighton 5G testbed

The UK’s latest 5G testbed gone live in Brighton, allowing local businesses to test out next generation connectivity and for startups to showcase their wares.

The Brighton 5G testbed, which is is a partnership between Digital Catapult, Coast to Capital, Wired Sussex and the University of Brighton, has a particular emphasis on immersive experiences.

The first companies to showcase their wares on the network were startups working on Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality applications, all of which stand to benefit greatly from 5G because of the ultrafast speeds, higher capacity and, especially, ultra-low latency.


Brighton 5G testbed


Although local AI processing is becoming more advanced, some applications will require a level of computational power that simply isn’t possible on such a compact device as a smartphone. However, the latency on existing mobile networks is too high for real time experiences.

5G networks will be software-defined, with core network features and computational power moved to the edge – closer to the device and the application – therefore reducing latency significantly.

The testbed is inviting local companies to register to gain access to the testbed, which offers the most advanced digital capabilities, such as an immserive lab, to help them develop their ideas and ultimately commercialise them.

"The 5G Brighton testbed lets companies experiment with new applications and services which take advantage of the unique nature of 5G.  This is a major step forward in the wider roll out of this advanced technology, helping take the technology out of university labs and into the market,” said Jeremy Silver, Digital Catapult CEO.

“5G represents more than just faster internet on the move, it’s the first mobile technology that, by design, enables free standing setup in individual locations, offers new companies the opportunity to control their own networks, and enables operators to manage computing at the edge as a new business model for the future."

There are several testbeds taking place across the UK. In the West Midlands, one testbed is looking to see how 5G can be used for autonomous and connected vehicles, while there are others look at areas like health and education. EE is planning a testbed in London, O2 at the O2 arena, while Vodafone plans to test in seven major UK cities.

It is expected the first UK 5G networks will launch in 2019.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.