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BT, Ericsson square up to Arqiva, Samsung over 5G arms race

Let the hype wars commence

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Hot on the heels of Arqiva revealing plans for a 5G trial with Samsung this morning, Ericsson and BT have also announced a partnership to develop 5G projects.

Mobile phone and broadcasting towers biz Arqiva is best known for infrastructure broadcasting. Simon Beresford-Wylie, Arqiva chief exec, said the business has been "watching the development of 5G very closely".

"5G will be a crucial pillar of the UK's economy in the 2020s," he added. "It will provide higher speeds: 1Gbps and significantly reduced latency (delay), along with super high reliability for mission critical applications."

Culture secretary Karen Bradley welcomed the Arqiva announcement, adding that the government has allocated a fund of £1bn "to boost the UK's digital infrastructure and support 5G trials".

She said: "But industry will continue to play the leading role, and investments like Arqiva's will help make sure the UK gets the benefits of new 5G networks early on, including faster, more reliable connections, new services like connected cars and the Internet of Things."

However, critics have said the move toward 5G is over-hyped, suggesting that the UK would be better served by addressing patchy 4G coverage instead.

The move could arguably put Arqiva in competition with BT Openreach.

Along with university research partner King's College London, Ericsson and BT announced a multi-year collaboration agreement on 5G testing and development this morning.

The collaboration is intended to focus on creating 5G use cases in commercial and consumer markets, with a particular focus on mission-critical services such as medical applications. It will involve research into the technical and economic aspects of key 5G-enabling technologies.

Howard Watson, CEO, BT Technology, Service & Operations, and BT Group CIO, said: "The initial focus of the collaboration is on Proof of Concept solutions and trials of services needing both high availability and low latency – both key features of the forthcoming 5G technology."

Earlier this month Ofcom identified the spectrum bands in the UK for the much-hyped use of 5G, ahead of the yet-to-be determined international standards for 5G. ®

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