18th Jan, 2021

Warwick University to become first public 5G connected university campus in the UK

Catherine Vonledebur 4th Nov, 2020 Updated: 4th Nov, 2020

A JOINT innovation alliance will see the University of Warwick in Coventry become the UK’s first dedicated public 5G connected campus.

BT, University of Warwick and Warwickshire County Council yesterday (Tuesday November 3) announced the collaboration which will bringing ultrafast 5G mobile coverage to up to 30,000 university students, staff and visitors across the 720-acre site through its EE mobile network – extending coverage to Leamington Spa’s Silicon Spa games cluster.

And it will help engineers at the university to deliver Europe’s first demonstration of driverless cars – Connected Autonomous Mobility (CAM) pods – over a public 5G network. The demo, being undertaken by WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) will explore Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication scenarios with two connected autonomous pods exchanging live data feeds; including Light Detection and Ranging data and live video alerts of road obstacles, to enhance future road and pedestrian safety.

Warwick is one of 12 additional UK towns and cities where 5G is now live including Aberdeen, Blackpool, Oxford, Stafford and Porthcawl. EE launched the UK’s first 5G service in May 2019 and has now expanded to 112 British towns and cities.

It will mark Warwick university as an early adopter of 5G technology and a testbed for research, industry and consumer case studies. Next, the company will extend 5G network coverage to support local creative and digital companies working with the university in surrounding areas and Leamington Spa’s ‘Silicon Spa’ games industry cluster.

Fotis Karonis, CTIO of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “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. 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, but will also shape 5G learning and co-creation for key business industries across the UK.”

David Plumb, the University of Warwick’s Chief Innovation Officer said: “This powerful innovation alliance with BT gives Warwick the advantage of being an early adopter of 5G technology with a significant partner. Our public 5G connected campus will: support new areas of research; enable new teaching technologies; help us to support even more regional businesses; and it will add to students’ campus experience be it in teaching, esports or simply through an enhanced performance on mobile devices.”

Coun Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this collaboration and support the piloting of 5G infrastructure. I’m particularly pleased to see the coverage extending to Silicon Spa area in Leamington.  This will be a real boost to the cluster of gaming companies based there which make such a strong contribution to the county’s economy and which are a major employer of young people, whose employment prospects have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”

The university has already embarked on a range of other innovative projects to draw on 5G technology as well as CAM, including pioneering medical technology being explored by the School of Engineering and  gaming and esports. BT’s development of 5G in the gaming and esports industry will also benefit from this new 5G collaboration, particularly as Warwick students are the winners of The British University Esports Championship and hold the UK e-sports University of the Year title. Leamington has also become known as Silicon Spa because of its significant cluster of  video gaming companies, many of which employ University of Warwick graduates.

The aim is that 5G can also be developed to help stimulate economic recovery across the various industry sectors regionally and across the UK. Together BT, the University of Warwick and Warwickshire County Council are launching a series of streamed events to help businesses develop fresh thinking and new possibilities from 5G. These will be held in late November and focus on Health and Wellbeing, Creative and Digital, and Industry 4.0. For further details on the events and content, see here.

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