Bristol hosts UK's first public trials on new 5G testbed

Posted on Thu 22 Feb 2018
Person dancing with VR headset on

From the light of the fire, our dancing shadows by Kaleider

On Sat 17 and Sun 18 March 2018, Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol; Watershed and We The Curious will host the Layered Realities Weekend 5G showcase launching the world’s first public 5G testbed to explore the next generation of wireless and wired connectivity through a series of free experimental public events.

Across the two days, Bristol audiences are invited to experience the potential of 5G through bold new works by artists, researchers and creatives, from Uninvited Guests and Duncan Speakman’s augmented reality theatre, to Kaleider’s virtual reality dance, and celebrated artist Joanie Lemercier’s audio-visual journey across the cosmos alongside a programme of critical talks and technology demonstrations.

The UK Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) are investing in a world-class 5G technology test network that aims to put Britain at the forefront of the next wave of mobile technology and Bristol has been awarded a share of £16 million to develop the cutting-edge 5G UK Test Networks - the Layered Realities Weekend 5G Showcase is part of this test network.

The University’s Smart Internet Lab is one of only three research institutions in the UK chosen to develop this cutting-edge technology and in collaboration with Watershed, are making it available for curious audiences to experience and experiment with the creative possibilities of this next generation of wireless for the first time.

In addition to the creative experiences the weekend will also be host to a series of talks from the 5G Fellows, a cohort of five critical thinkers and makers who will share their creative responses to the impact of this new technology on our society. 

The Smart Internet Lab, led by Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, has also created a series of experimental demonstrations, showcasing an array of trailblazing 5G technologies. These presentations will range from new radio and wireless-fibre convergence to network automation, public safety and autonomous cars.

Audiences are invited to explore for themselves the advantages of Massive MIMO, a game-changing technology that will greatly boost network capacity and performance whilst reducing network congestion. 

Event attendees will also have the opportunity of viewing a real time transmission sent from a connected autonomous vehicle (CAV), parked in Millennium Square for the duration of the weekend. Wireless connectivity is one of the underpinning technologies allowing the CAVs to transform from autonomous systems to cooperative entities via collaborative sensor sharing.

5G is a reinvention of the internet for an always connected, interactive world. Above ground, it will offer massively increased speed, capacity and reliability compared to 3G and 4G. In addition, 5G represents a range of interconnected technologies which will supercharge the internet, offering a huge increase in bandwidth, allowing more things to connect at once, and reducing latency. This will mean seamless connectivity across a city for services like high definition real-time streamed media, augmented realities and better implementation of the Internet of things as well as major potential for making work for/with crowds. 

Clare Reddington, Creative Director, Watershed says;

“We are thrilled to be able to offer the public the chance to examine next generation wireless connectivity through these experimental events – we have asked artists, researchers and creatives to produce bold new works which explore the capability and potential of 5G and the result is the Layered Realities Weekend 5G Showcase. Technology and culture are inseparable - the Layered Realities weekend explores not only how artists might push the possibilities of 5G, but also explore how this technology might fit into the lives of people in new and transformative ways.”

Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab at University of Bristol says;

“The  Smart Internet Lab is a world leader in the field of 5G network technologies. In March 2018 we are taking the challenge to deliver an end-to-end 5G network in Bristol’s Millennium Square and to demonstrate for the first time 5G services to the general public. We have worked closely with our strategic technology partners BT, CCS, Nokia and Zeetta Networks  in order to deliver a truly unique 5G Test Network and we are very excited to create the world’s first public 5G experience.”

You can choose to make a day of it or just turn up for one of the experiences in the weekend’s programme. Check in at the temporary Box Office in Millennium Square on the day to get further details and be part of the future before it's happened.

Layered Realities 5G Showcase is produced by Watershed on behalf of the Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol. Smart Internet Lab has secured funds to establish '5G UK Test Networks' a national asset funded by the UK Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) '5GUK Test Networks'.

The Layered Realities 5G Showcase brings together the University of Bristol's Smart Internet Lab and Watershed, We the Curious, BT, Nokia, Zeetta, Cambridge Communications Systems, PureLiFi and BiO.