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5G mobile networks will allow us to touch through the internet

Wednesday, March 25th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Ericsson and King’s College London have announced that they will collaborate on research into 5G.

The research will look into the potential global impact of a fifth generation network (5G) on both industry and society, and the development of what is known as the ‘tactile internet’ – where humans would be able to touch through the internet, wirelessly controlling real and virtual objects.

The collaboration will also focus on how 5G will enable smart sustainable cities – innovative cities that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life.

As part of the collaboration, Ericsson and King’s College London will set-up a 5G Tactile Internet Lab, where the technology can be tested, with prototypes created and connected to real-time test environments.

Cable.co.uk has previously reported how 5G is expected to reach commercial mobile networks around 2020, with some experts predicting it will deliver data transfer rates 100 times faster than current 4G networks.

Professor Mischa Dohler, head of King’s College London’s Centre for Telecommunications Research, said: “In addition to groundbreaking telecommunications paradigms, computer science, such as innovative artificial intelligence and edge-cloud technologies, and robotics, such as novel edge-haptics, will be used to pioneer the Tactile Internet, which is one of many opportunities that 5G will enable.

“Currently we can see and hear through the internet, but we cannot touch – we have a vision to create the Tactile Internet, where we would be able to touch through the medium of the internet.”

5G is expected to begin its commercial rollout in 2020, and Ericsson has said it believes there will be up to 50 billion connected devices in the world.

'Basis of a networked society'

Speaking to Cable.co.uk at International CES in January, Ramneek Bali, a technical solutions manager, said a 5G mobile network will be the platform that connects “everything, anywhere”.

The technology will allow higher quality viewing of TV and media on mobile devices, and will also enable things like connected devices and cars, known as machine-to-machine communication.

Ericsson’s collaboration with King’s College London will complement its work with the Technical University of Dresden in Germany.

It comes after the firm recently announced a number of cooperations with leading European research institutes and universities on 5G such as the Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology and Lund University.

Valter D’Avino, Ericsson head of Region Western and Central Europe, said the collaboration with King’s College London would “accelerate the momentum around smart cities, the Internet of Things and evolved industries powered by 5G” in the UK.

He said it also highlighted the company’s ongoing commitment to innovate in Europe and develop 5G with relevant partners as “the basis of a networked society and of digitised economies in the next decades”.

Last year Prime Minister David Cameron outlined plans for the UK and Germany to drive the development of 5G networks, arguing that the two country’s should "partner to lead the next digital revolution".

He said: "It is our ambition to make the UK the most digital nation in the G8 and it is my mission to show the world that we're getting there.”

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