A new testbed for 5G has launched in Aberdeen – to help businesses explore the potential applications of next generation mobile connectivity.

Scotland 5G Centre and Opportunity North East (ONE) are collaborating to drive the adoption of 5G in key sectors of the economy – including energy, utilities, ports and logistics. 

The new facility and testbed at ONE Tech Hub will allow businesses of all sizes to test and develop new 5G applications and accelerate new digital services and operations in the region.

The Scotland 5G Centre announced the deployment of a new 5G Testbed in Aberdeen in March, in partnership with ONE, to unlock the ‘transformational benefits’ of 5G for Scottish businesses, public sector organisations and Scottish communities. 

The partnership is supported by Vodafone and its partner, global 5G technology leader, Ericsson with the Mobile Private Network (MPN) being deployed in just eight weeks.

As part of the launch in Aberdeen, Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee, visited the site and experienced 5G capability first-hand. He observed a remote training demonstration of an offshore wind farm using a robotic arm. This 5G-enabled teleoperation demonstrates how skills can be delivered remotely over wireless links offering new opportunities and capabilities to the energy industry.   

This real-time demonstration is possible by using the low latency and high reliability of a 5G mobile private network while the advantage of installing an MPN on-site offers more control on how the network is customised and configured. The robotic arm was controlled by a remote operator, who could see, feel and experience the environment during the inspection with the help of visual and haptic feedback. 

Vodafone demonstrated a fault detection training programme and Mr. McKee was introduced to Vodafone’s ‘mixed reality’ solution. The technology allows the user to see the physical world alongside digital overlays. These could come in the form of instructions, videos or 3-D objects like a car. The technology will be used in training to improve the learning of complex processes and the speed of completing repetitive tasks, as well as for specialists to provide remote support to on-site engineers.

The 5G hub is open to local businesses who are interested in the opportunities 5G provides. Visitors can access support from the S5GConnect team and see first-hand the benefits of the live testbed. The hub will benefit businesses in the area that are planning to integrate advanced connectivity to improve their business performance. 

Mr. McKee said: “Transformative 5G technology has the potential to revitalise businesses across the country and I congratulate those behind these innovative demonstrations. 

“The new Aberdeen 5G Innovation Hub will help boost the economy and encourage entrepreneurship in the North East, helping small and medium-sized enterprises with the skills they need to understand how 5G can benefit their business.

“Collaboration between innovation hubs like this and industry can transform businesses and create opportunities for increased productivity, cost savings and sustainability. I encourage the energy sector – locally and further afield – to take advantage of the technology and expertise on offer to help innovate and grow your business.”

Mark Hanson, non-executive director of The Scotland 5G Centre said: “We’re excited to be launching the S5GConnect Hub in Aberdeen – providing a knowledge centre and test bed infrastructure for the surrounding community. 

“5G technology is open for use not just by mobile network operators, but it allows businesses, government bodies and other organizations the opportunity to set up their own private 5G network – enabling secure, interference free, high speed, low latency wireless communications. It’s one of the key technologies on which Scotland’s Future Digital Economy will be built.

“The Aberdeen Hub, will help individual organisations understand the impact 5G can have, run trials on the test bed infrastructure and receive support as they deploy their own private networks. We also look forward to working alongside our partners here in Aberdeen, Opportunity North East, Aberdeen City Council, the innovation centres including CENSIS and The Data Lab and other agencies where we can work closely together to help deliver major transformation projects for the area.”

Karen O’Hanlon, director digital tech, Opportunity North East, said: “ONE Tech Hub is the anchor point for the region’s fast-growing tech community and home to a growing number of leading partner organisations connecting digital tech businesses with expertise and specialist technology to help them go further faster. 

“The new Scotland 5G centre partnership and 5G testbed with onsite support will give businesses and tech developers the opportunity to work with expert advisors to demonstrate, develop and apply 5G connectivity in new applications and be part of the transformative 5G technology ecosystem to help accelerate growth.”