Communications provider BT, the University of Warwick and Warwickshire County Council have embarked on a collaboration to bring 5G innovation and co-development to the university campus and the wider region, stimulating regional economic growth and post-Covid-19 recovery.
The commercial 5G installation is the first phase of a strategic alliance between BT and the University of Warwick, which has more than 30,000 students and staff, 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 represent the UK’s first dedicated public 5G network for a connected campus, bringing 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.
It will also establish the university as a testbed for research, industry and consumer 5G use case development. In a further step, BT will 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.
With the Warwick location right at the heart of England’s traditional centre for automotive manufacturing, one of the early projects will see 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 Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) 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 partners expect the transport and mobility sectors 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 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.
In nearby Birmingham, BT has already established a presence with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) in trialling new technology in the form of an always-connected remote diagnostic station that it designed to help transform the way it delivers care to patients.
This project follows on from the announcement in November 2019 that UHB was using BT’s 5G network in the city of Birmingham and surrounding area for trial healthcare communications over a 5G-connected ambulance, combining virtual, augmented and robotic technology.
Leamington Spa’s ‘Silicon Spa’ games industry cluster is also earmarked to see benefits from a focus on esports and gaming with 5G solutions.
“The 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,” said Fotis Karonis, CTIO of BT’s Enterprise unit.
“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 [research and development], but will also shape 5G learning and co-creation for key business industries across the UK.”
“This powerful innovation alliance with BT gives Warwick the advantage of being an early adopter of 5G technology with a significant partner,” added David Plumb, the University of Warwick’s chief innovation officer.
“Our public 5G connected campus will support new areas of research, enable new teaching technologies, help us to support even more regional businesses, and add to students’ campus experience be it in teaching, esports or simply through an enhanced performance on mobile devices.”