O2 to provide 5G network for CAV testing in the UK
U.K. telco O2 confirmed it will provide 5G connectivity for the testing and development of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
O2 will enable 5G connectivity to Millbrook testing facilities from June 2019, using its 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz spectrum in advance of the first phase of its 5G rollout in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London later this year, the telco said.
The on-site 5G network consists of 59 sites and 89 small cells and is operated by British wireless solution provider Dense Air. Under a 12 month agreement with the AutoAir project, O2 will integrate the sites and small cells into its public infrastructure.
The AutoAir 5G project is made up of a number of different partners from across the digital communications and automotive sectors.
The group looks to accelerate the adoption of connected and self-driving technology in the U.K., via trials supported by members including Dense Air, Airspan Networks, Millbrook, Blu Wireless, Real Wireless, the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Center and the R&D arm of motorsport racing team McLaren.
O2 highlighted that the low-latency and high capacity of 5G technology allows for vehicles to transmit large amounts of data, including 4K video, to intelligent cloud-based transport systems, which are expected to improve road safety and help traffic authorities to monitor and manage traffic flow.
Earlier this year, the AutoAir 5G Testbed and Trials consortium was able to prove this capability, during tests at Millbrook that saw a McLaren sports car receive and send data at 1 Gbit/s whilst driving round the site at 160 Mph, and real-time UltraHD 4K video sharing between a network of moving vehicles.
Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s CTO said: “5G will play a key role in how our country develops over the next few years. If implemented properly, 5G has the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs and enable a new host of technologies – including self-driving vehicles. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting the trial activity at Millbrook, alongside ambitious partners who share our vision of building a truly Mobile Britain.”
“This project will transform the way we design, maintain and operate on our future networks,” said Lizi Stewart, Managing Director, Transportation UK, Atkins. “Developing the first 5G neutral network in the UK will allow us to continue our drive for innovation and industry-changing initiatives for the transportation sector.”
A recent report published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and analyst firm Frost & Sullivan stated that the U.K. is in the “pole position” in the global race to market for connected and autonomous vehicles, with a £62 billion ($81 billion) boost to the UK economy by 2030.
The report also highlighted that £500 million has been already committed by industry and government to CAV research, development and testing across the UK. Autonomous driving trials are taking place in major U.K. towns and cities, while the country is also home to four major CAV test beds and three additional sites focused on highways, rural and parking, with more than 80 collaborative R&D projects underway. Some 420,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the automotive industry and other sectors such as telecoms and digital services.
However, the U.K.’s departure from the European Union must be orderly with a deal that supports both the industry and technological collaboration, especially in data. A “no-deal” Brexit will result in lasting damage to the U.K.’s reputation as a politically stable destination for inward investment, putting the benefits identified in the report at risk.