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30 June, 2021 - 22:19 By Tony Quested

CW and Huawei unleash Cambridge 5G tour de force

A Cambridge-based 5G R & D accelerator has unlocked transformative benefits for the first startups and SMEs to use its 5G testbed.

Over a three-month accelerator programme on the CW (Cambridge Wireless)-led 5G private network in association with Huawei, testbed participants Ubisense, Extend Robotics and Camnexus discovered cost and performance advantages from 5G that will boost their competitiveness and enable them to disrupt their respective markets. 

For example:-

  • Ubisense’s cost comparisons for asset tracking in factories showed 5G delivered up to 60 per cent lower cost compared to current wired solutions. Further cost reductions were found in decreased cable damage and human error, and increased ease of sensor deployment – all while achieving the target level of performance (30cm accuracy in 3D with acceptable network load).
  • The capabilities of Extend Robotics’ mechanical arms were transformed by the superior uplink speeds and latency of 5G. Consistent bandwidths of >20Mbps enabled bulk RGB-D data transmission and the doubling of cameras supported by their solution. Latency of less than 20ms – compared to 500+ms in 4G – enabled real- time operation of the robotic arms from any region, a feat that was not possible with previous generations of mobile technology.
  • The testbed validated 5G uplink as a new feature of the Camnexus LPWAN gateways: KUBO800© (for European and African market) and KUBO900© (for the Americas and Australian market). In a simulated scenario of massive IoT including 200 nodes and two HD video streams, 5G was shown to have higher reliability than 3G/4G. 

The result is a versatile Camnexus IoT LPWAN-5G infrastructure and seamless solution for clients looking to integrate real-time or higher bandwidth applications in a dedicated massive IoT solution that can secure existing infrastructure.

For startups and SMEs such as these, early access to a 5G testbed has enabled them to conduct critical R & D and deploy 5G-based solutions before their competition, resulting in a significant first-mover advantage.

To ensure that participants benefit commercially from the testbed’s three-month R & D timeframe, CW and testbed partner Huawei offered technical and commercial consultancy and used its network to engage potential business partners for the participants. 

On the back of this commercial support, Extend Robotics made connections with QuarkXR and co-developed a 5G-enabled CloudVR solution that reduced the total cost of their solution by 30 per cent.

Andy Ward, CTO at Ubisense, said: “CW’s 5G testbed has let us explore and test real-world system configurations and will be crucial in convincing customers that private 5G networks can be used to deliver lower costs and higher performance to Industrial IoT users today.”

Chang Liu, CEO of Extend Robotics, was equally enthusiastic: “The facilities at the CW 5G testbed were excellent and flexible enough to support our diverse range of testing needs.

“We received engineer-to-engineer support on network set-up and had anytime access to the facility, enabling the team to maximise the impact of our R & D efforts during the three-month accelerator.”

Dr Jessica Ocampos, CEO and co-founder of Camnexus, added: “Camnexus’ participation in CW’s 5G testbed allowed us to research and gain valuable insight of this new technology and how this can be implemented in industrial IoT. 

“Amid a pandemic our international team separated by 10,000 km was able perform the first 5G-5G end-to-end HD video streaming and simultaneous simulation of a massive IoT scenario. This can have a tremendous impact to our clients globally.”

Huawei in Cambridge is central to the initiative and vice-president Victor Zhang, said:  “This accelerator programme marks a breakthrough in the application of 5G and shows what’s possible by using this technology to work smarter. Congratulations to the participants for the exciting progress they’ve made and the boundaries they’re pushing in their sectors. 

“This is just the starting point: we would like to work with other innovators in a range of sectors, by providing both our technology and our expertise, to explore opportunities for business and industry using 5G. 

“This next generation of connectivity has the potential to reshape ways of working and all progress helps the whole ecosystem to grow and prosper.”

Abhi Naha, CCO of Cambridge Wireless, explained that the testbed was the first 5G private network in the region and remained the only place in Cambridge for the local technology ecosystem to validate their technology on 5G.

He said: “CW fully believes in the importance of 5G R & D facilities, such as this one, being accessible for engineering teams. Only then will companies be able to fully engage with the R & D and generate real business value not just for themselves, but also for their customers.”

Applications are open for the third cohort to enter the CW 5G accelerator programme starting September 2021. If your company wishes to trial its products or services on the CW 5G testbed visit the Cambridge Wireless website or contact Abhi Naha. visit https://www.cambridgewireless.co.uk

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