The UK government has announced it will invest £16m (€18m/$20.6m) in 5G research to provide a boost to the country’s mobile technology future.

It has been estimated that by 2030, 5G technology could boost the economy by up to £173bn.

5G has been designed to meet the needs of next-generation mobile networks by pooling bandwidth to boost range and speed. Average speeds of 100Mbps are expected, with 5G able to handle more data, connect more devices, significantly reduce latency and bring new levels of reliability.

Andrew Jones MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Ensuring Britain remains at the forefront of digital innovation is a priority for this government.

“We are investing £740m from the National Productivity Investment Fund to boost the country’s digital infrastructure, and today’s announcement will help provide people and businesses with the next generation of connections.”

King’s College London and the universities of Surrey and Bristol will carry out the research, with the idea of developing a high-speed 5G test network.

The plan is to improve the technology to support the commercial sector, with digital businesses such as ticketing operators expected to feel the greatest benefits.

According to a recent report, the National Infrastructure Commission said: “5G means seamless connectivity. Ultra-fast, ultra-reliable, ultra-high capacity transmitting at super low latency.

“It will support the ever-larger data requirements of the existing network and new applications from augmented reality to connected vehicles and the Internet of Things, and many more, as unknowable today as the 4G services we take for granted would have been a decade ago.”

Professor Andrew Nix, dean of the faculty of engineering and head of the communication systems and networks group, said: “As part of the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab we’ve been developing some amazing 5G technologies.

“For example, we hold the world record for spectral efficiency with our 5G Massive MIMO base station. We’re also a world leader in the use of millimetre spectrum and software defined networking. Working with our industrial and academic partners, we aim to show off some of the incredible new services made possible by 5G networks.”

The speed, coverage, and reliability of 5G will have a knock on effect in the development of other mobile technology developments. It would include advancements with virtual reality technology, which has already been adopted by many stadium and entertainment and ticketing firms such as Live Nation. 

It will also play a large part in enabling the IoT (Internet of Things) to become more prevalent as record numbers of devices, such as wearable technology and sensors are brought online.

Apple has already hinted that it could add ticketing support to its NFC features when its new iOS 11 operating system is introduced later this year.

Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital, said: “We want to be at the head of the field in 5G. This funding will support the pioneering research needed to ensure we can harness the potential of this technology to spark innovation, create new jobs and boost the economy.

“We know 5G has the potential to bring more reliable, ultra-fast mobile connectivity, with quicker reaction times and larger data capabilities, and I’m thrilled to announce King’s College London and the universities of Surrey and Bristol have agreed to collaborate on this project.”

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