The billion-dollar 5G opportunity is set for a boost in the UK with the help of the ‘5G Innovation Network’, due to launch in early 2018 with TM Forum’s help.
The Forum is part of a consortium chosen by the government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to deliver the 5G Innovation Network. Also in this consortium is Cambridge Wireless (CW) a technology networking community acting as the lead partner, and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), an innovation networking community.
In a report on 5G we published earlier this year, 5G: Is platform the killer use case?, we found that the second biggest 5G challenge for communications service providers is the lack of a mature ecosystem of products and services (48 percent of CSPs, 52 percent of suppliers). This new network will pave the road towards 5G ecosystem maturity so businesses can take full advantage of the technology.
Connecting digital ecosystems
“TM Forum is delighted to play a key role in the development of the UK5G Innovation Network, which is underpinned by our commitment to connect digital ecosystems in a variety of settings around the world,” said Nik Willetts, CEO of TM Forum.
“Exposing this learning in the UK and amplifying experience from the UK to the rest of the world is at the heart of what we do, and we look forward to working with CW, KTN and 5G-In’s partner organizations on establishing the UK’s position as a leading developer of 5G technology.”
Indeed collaboration and connecting ecosystems lie at the heart of the Forum’s work, evidenced through our many standardization frameworks, our work in Open APIs and our large variety of collaborative efforts. Our Catalyst projects, for example, have been instrumental in developing ecosystems. A recent case in point being the recent, award-winning OAsIS Catalyst project, which is proposing a set of standard APIs to connect internet of things (IoT) ecosystems.
What will the 5G Innovation network do?
- Bring together and market the UK’s 5G ecosystem through business-led initiatives such as the national DCMS Testbed & Trials program (read more about this below), other relevant government funded projects and numerous private sector 5G projects.
- Work with the Department of International Trade (DIT) on a conduit for overseas partners wishing to invest in UK 5G.
- Support 5G inward investment opportunities.
- Provide a regular source of news and information from the UK 5G ecosystem.
- Operate autonomously from Government.
- At its heart will be an independent advisory board, which will inform and review the operations of the Network, provide a leadership focus for the UK 5G ecosystem, and provide advice to Government as it further develops national 5G programs.
- Facilitate innovation partnerships.
- Deliver a national calendar of events, aimed at both the technology supply-side and the stimulation of industry demand.
“An independent, impartial network to share information and to encourage industry-led collaboration gives the UK a great opportunity to be a world leader in 5G services,” said Chris Warkup, CEO, KTN.
Testbed and trials
The government has said that the program will stimulate trials by many different future 5G users, designed to address some of society’s biggest challenges, such as those faced in health and social care, and address 5G development and deployment challenges. Requirements will be co-designed and tested by connectivity providers and end-users alike.
“The goal is to accelerate learning between providers and users about mutual productivity gains, including scoping new business models, in a series of pre-commercialization test environments,” the DCMS said in a paper explaining the program.
In October, the 5G Testbeds and Trials Program launched a £25 million competition to fund an initial series of testbeds and trials. This ‘Phase 1’ competition is focusing on new and innovative use cases for 5G to help identify new revenue streams and business models for all parts of the supply chain.
At the UK Budget in November, the DCMS announced specific funding for 5G projects, and the government has now announced that ‘Phase 2’ program activity will include funding for the first large-scale projects.
“The 5G Testbeds & Trials Program will harness the power of fast-changing technology and further the UK’s leadership,” said Matt Hancock, the UK’s Minister of State for Digital and Culture. “The program will make use of areas where the UK has a competitive advantage such as engineering talent, and its rich ecosystem of relevant technology companies, both large and small.”
Onwards and upwards
Collaboration is key for the network. Along with TM Forum, CW and KTN, the consortium has engaged three Associate Partners including the Digital Catapult, Real Wireless Ltd and DG Cities Ltd. Leading educational institutions like the University of Surrey, Bristol, and King’s College are also supporting the effort.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the UK to build and enhance its position in the implementation of the next generation of mobile communication – and the end-goal is to help these technologies rapidly transform our societies and economic performance,” said Bob Driver, CEO, CW.