Western University and Bell are partnering on eight new projects to bring next-generation experiences onto 5G networks, announced Western on Feb. 16. The university has committed C$1 million towards 5G research projects that test the network’s capabilities in real-world scenarios.
The eight projects funded by Western will be carried out at Western’s campus, which also acts as a living lab.
The lab was created as part of the partnership between Bell and Western. First established in 2021, the lab will be able to access the entire 5G spectrum for testing and research.
“Currently, our researchers have access to the current commercial N66 service that Bell, and other carriers are already offering in Canada,” said Peter White, executive director of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships at Western University, in an email statement to IT World Canada. “The 3.5 GHz N78 pre-commercial spectrum started on one cell-site in the fall of 2021 and has been fully operational across the entire campus area and research parks since Jan. 1 for our researchers to utilize. Any additional 5G spectrum to be utilized will be made available.
In a news release from last year, Western said that it invested C$2.7 million into deploying 5G networks on its campus using five signal towers. The towers are connected to Bell’s commercial network so researchers can test their ideas in a real-world environment.
Now that it’s fully operational, Western touts that it’s the only university in Canada with a fully functional 5G network deployed. The coverage and scale allow researchers to test and develop advanced technologies.
“It’s all about connectivity: connecting people to people, people to places, people to things,” said Kevin Shoemaker, Western University kinesiology professor, in the university’s news release.
New projects under the research umbrella include applications in remote, robot-assisted surgeries, speedier app development, big data processing and enhanced security for drones.
Currently, Western researchers are conducting experiments to tackle pressing societal issues using 5G, including collision avoidance, creating more engaging virtual classrooms using virtual reality, and improving mental health. All of the projects rely on a 5G network’s low latency, high throughput, and the increased number of devices it supports.
All the projects in this initiative are expected to be live-tested in 2022. Western told the publication that Bell has non-exclusive rights to the project outcomes.