Consumers and businesses are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of 4G in the UK, but the University of Surrey has been awarded a £35 million grant to set up a research hub for 5th Generation (5G) mobile communication technologies.

The new 5G Innovation Centre will aim to stimulate expansion in UK telecommunications and provision of broadband mobile internet services, and attract international telecoms giants to conduct research and development on new 5G standards in the UK.

It will also link to the government’s Connected Digital Economy initiative, bringing “significant downstream benefits for economic growth,” according to the University.

The grant is made up of £11.6 million of government money, underpinned by an additional £24 million from a consortium of mobile operators and infrastructure providers including Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde-Schwarz and AIRCOM International.

“Although the UK played an active role in the creation of 2G (GSM) cellular standards, it has increasingly fallen behind in succeeding generations 3G and 4G standards,” said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, one of the UK’s leading communications experts, who also heads up the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR).

Tafazolli said that the global telecommunications industry, valued at $2.1 trillion per annum, is already responsible for 6% of world GDP, and mobile communications data traffic is expected to increase 1,000 fold by 2020.

“The University’s industry partners have identified this proposal as the single biggest opportunity for the UK to regain a world leading position in the development of 5G technologies and for the development of vibrant businesses around the technologies,” he said.

Welcoming the news, David Delpy, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said the new funding will provide vital tools to help the UK’s best scientists make new discoveries more quickly and drive future innovation.

The University of Surrey is already involved in the government’s drive to attain a 10% share of the world satellite applications market, (estimated to be worth £40 billion by 2030), through its close links with small satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellites.

Last year, researchers from the university helped Surrey Satellites launch a smartphone into orbit around the Earth, to demonstrate that working satellites can be constructed through the use of off-the-shelf components.