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How a new research centre could put Wales at the forefront of the 5G revolution


It is fair to say that the world of technology is evolving all of the time, with new innovations emerging seemingly on a weekly basis and going on to transform our daily lives.

So many talking points arise from this area month after month, but arguably the biggest in the past year has been the emergence of 5G. This new technology looks set to take mobile capabilities to a whole new level and could have a bearing on our lives in so many ways.

The next generation

As the name 5G suggests, the technology is the next generation of wireless internet connection and it is set to offer an improvement on what is currently capable with 4G services. According to the BBC, some experts actually believe it will offer download speeds around 10 or 20 times faster than what is currently possible and this is anticipated to have a knock-on effect across almost every sector. One industry which is set to be particularly transformed is the automotive sector, as it is believed that 5G may hold the key to autonomous vehicles – or, to put in simpler terms, driverless cars. Why? Because, as the BBC adds, it should allow data to be seamlessly sent between vehicles and other services as the cars safely navigate themselves around routes.

Gaming and entertainment is another area which seems destined to get a big boost from 5G too. Considering that it was estimated that 2.4 billion people would play mobile games in 2019, the capabilities of such titles should be boosted significantly by the better connectivity offered by 5G. Furthermore, streaming services like Twitch, Hulu or HBO Now are becoming more common, while online casino sites like Betway have started offering an increasing number of ‘live casino’ experiences where players take part in games like blackjack hosted by a dealer via a video link. Such innovations may only become more common as 5G boosts what can be achieved in terms of mobile connections and video.

Furthermore, streaming has also changed our consumption of TV and film in recent years, so imagine what the benefits of 5G could offer. According to the BBC, the technology would allow you to download an HD film in just a minute – a capability which could arguably mean the end of physical media formats like DVD and Blu-ray.

Wales at the forefront

All of this means that excitement about 5G has been building as providers start to offer the services across the UK. In March last year, Vodafone became the first company to bring it to Cardiff, as they began a major trial to see how the technology could benefit its customers.

Now however, it looks like Wales’ relationship with 5G is set to move to a whole new level, thanks to an exciting announcement that may have big consequences for the country. Towards the end of January, it was confirmed that a new 5G research centre had been opened at M-SParc – the science park which is managed by Bangor University.

In a statement released by the university’s College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, it was confirmed that the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Centre will be run by researchers who will be looking to not only speed up broadband but also enable true 5G to be achieved. As well as working alongside the likes of Huawei and BT, the centre is also being supported by around £4 million of EU funding which has been provided by the Welsh Government.

A global leader

Professor Jianming Tang, the project lead at the DSP Centre, described the aim of the site as meeting “the challenges of 5G mobile networks by seeking solutions to improve bandwidth provision, lower latency and increase connection density, and making the networks more elastic and adaptive”.

Wales’ Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters AM, who opened the new site, said it would make a big contribution towards “making Wales a global leader in 5G technology”.

David Thomas, the Pro Vice Chancellor of Research and Impact at Bangor University, added that it was an exciting new development that showed how the work done by its researchers could be used for “real-world benefits”. Furthermore, M-SParc’s Managing Director Pryderi ap Rhisiart stated that the project was a clear sign that work “on the cutting edge” does happen in the region despite it perhaps not being something that the area is often associated with.

An exciting project

Considering the huge impact that 5G is expected to have on lives across the globe, it is clearly very exciting that this vital project has found a home in Wales.

The work at the centre looks set to not only have an impact on the development of next generation services, but also on Wales’ standing as a highly regarded leader in the field of cutting-edge technology.