UK connects three 5G testbeds for end-to-end trials

5G UK Exchange to launch in April

Three UK Universities that act as hubs for 5G research are now ready to link capabilities and provide an end-to-end 5G test case capability across their three sites.

The start of the UK5G Exchange project brings to an end a nine month build phase to put test beds live at each site and provide interconnection between them. UK5G Exchange creates a combined capability to test and operate network services across the different 5G “islands”.

The project, backed by £16 million from the UK Government’s 5G Test Beds and Trials programme, links test beds at Bristol, Kings College London and Surrey University – the host of 5GIC.

The UK5G Exchange platform acts as a broker between the sites, giving test participants the ability to authenticate against the network and then select the network services they want to deploy.

Kings College London has installed a 3.5GHZ and 26GHz network at its site, using Ericsson radio kit. Dr Maria Lema Rosas said that the University has developed a 5G Cloud with five production Openstack deployments including two vRAN and two vCore instances. The system integrates an OS-MANO orchestration layer with OpenStack based SDN Controllers, OpenDaylight Controllers and an Ericsson’s own VIM – known as the Cloud Execution Environment.

As well as developing SDN delivery Bristol’s test bed uses edge based computing to test smart city use cases – you can read more about recent live demos it carried out to showcase that capability here.

The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) is leading the project and developing 5G radio technologies at 3.5GHz and 700 MHz frequency bands for enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and developing a fully virtualised mobile core network


King’s held an event to update progress on the Exchange programme, and to demonstrate some of the use cases it is researching. The focus of its research is on being able to use the low latency and high throughput characteristics of 5G to synchronise different locations. These could be in healthcare, in industrial robotics or in the arts. 

Note that nearly all the demos were linked via the following set up. The very short range link from each demo element was over a WiFi link to an Ericsson test 5G NR UE. The UEs themselves were then connected over live 5G NR radio links to two antennas – at 3.5GHz and 28GHz – on the roof of the University building. The radio units are in the building’s basement, now known as the 5G Bunker by staff and students.

The 5G NR test UEs

Up on the roof – the 3.5GHz (squarer, to the left) and 28 GHz antennas.


Live motion capture and then reproduction in another location.

Selection of King’s College and Ericsson demos