Huawei to build private 5G testbed in Cambridge

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Huawei’s well-documented struggles in the UK have seemingly failed to put the brakes on its British investments with the Chinese vendor set to build the first private 5G testbed at the Cambridge Science Park.

Cambridge and the surrounding area is home to a growing community of technology firms, start-ups, and academics, strengthening the claim of ‘Silicon Fen’ to be an increasingly influential global tech hub.

The 5G testbed will go live in January 2021, kicking off a three-year partnership with Cambridge Wireless that will also include digital training, business support and joint events.

Huawei Campus

The aim of the venture is to determine the potential economic and societal benefits of 5G technology by accelerating research into the most revolutionary 5G applications, such as connected vehicles and remote health.

“As home to one of the world’s most advanced R&D ecosystems, Cambridge is perfectly positioned for the rollout of next-generation wireless technology and we’re delighted to be driving this initiative with our partners,” said Simon Mead, Cambridge Wireless CEO.

“We hope to bring something unique to the Science Park to accelerate use cases and development of this technology. We invite ambitious businesses to get involved and through this exciting 3-year partnership with Huawei, we will support their 5G innovation journey.”

Huawei has had a presence in the UK for more than two decades through partnerships with major telecoms firms and through billion-pound investments in facilities and research. It has a keen interest in Silicon Fen through links with Cambridge University and the construction of a new £1 billion. 500-acre campus that will focus on the creation of optical devices and modules.

It is unclear how the government’s decision to ban the company from the rollout of 5G networks will affect any future investments, but this latest development is evidence that Huawei values the UK’s research capabilities.

“Huawei’s success is built on a relentless drive for innovation and we are able to keep pushing the boundaries of technology when we partner with those who share this ambition,” said Huawei Vice-President Victor Zhang. “The Cambridge eco-system is recognised as a global leader in technology and we are excited to work with the talent and vision in this eco-system. We hope to enable Cambridge Wireless members to reach new heights by allowing them access to our state-of-the-art equipment and markets including China and beyond.

“Our commitment to the UK and industry remains as strong as ever and we will continue to offer our expertise and technology to our partners to promote connections and innovation.” 

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.