Bristol University’s electrical engineering department has won a national award for innovation collaboration for its work with BT, National Instruments and Lund University in Sweden.

“This is an excellent example of academic impact as we progress research with industry to deliver the goals and vision of 5G connectivity”


The team won the ‘Information, Data & Connectivity’ award at the Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) Awards 2017, with their project ‘Setting World Records in 5G Wireless Spectral Efficiency using Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO)’.

By 2020, 5.5 billion people will own mobile phones, and 5G wireless technology is set to offer a step-change in the provisioning of wireless connectivity and network functionality. This will open-up new service offerings, applications and significant business opportunities in a variety of new markets, and massive MIMO antenna technology is one of the key wireless technology enablers for 5G.

Making 5G possible

Under the leadership of Professor Mark Beach, the Universities of Bristol and Lund collaborated with the BT Wireless research team, led by Ian Mings, using NI’s Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) Prototyping System. This allowed the team to rapidly innovate and advance 5G cellular network experimentation transforming the future of wireless communications through massive MIMO techniques. In February 2017, they successfully demonstrated greater than 20 times increases in bandwidth efficiency compared to current 4G cellular technologies, which opens new, record-setting realms of possibility for 5G deployment in bands under 6GHz.

“Collaborative activities such as this project help to underpin the training of our postgraduates with the EPSRC CDT in Communications, equipping our postgraduates to become future leaders in this exciting field,” said Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering in Bristol’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (above, centre), Manager of the EPSRC CDT in Communications and a member of the Communication Systems & Networks (CSN) Group. “This is also an excellent example of academic impact as we progress research with industry to deliver the goals and vision of 5G connectivity”.

Fredrik Tufvesson, Professor of Radio Systems at Lund University added: “We are very happy to see how such an extraordinary joint effort has materialised, so that we can now jointly demonstrate and investigate systems that people were unsure as to whether they could be implemented a few years ago.”

“Massive MIMO will turbocharge 5G mobile networks”


Representing BT at the awards ceremony, Mansoor Hanif, Director of the Converged Networks Research Lab, said: “BT Labs have a long history of pioneering research and innovation, in collaboration with like-minded industry and academic partners. Massive MIMO will turbocharge 5G mobile networks, especially in the coverage-driven areas of sub-6GHz 5G where spectrum is likely to be limited.”

Other nominees in the category included Visbion with Imperial College, Added Scientific with The University of Nottingham and University of Sussex, and Ocado with Cambridge Consultants.

The team’s collaboration on massive MIMO trials for 5G wireless, also won ‘Application of The Year 2016’ at the NI Engineering Impact Awards. “This is exactly why we founded the NI Academic Programme” said Richard Roberts, NI Marketing Engineer and head-judge of the Engineering Impact Awards, “Accelerating academic innovation and discovery, either in the classroom or the research laboratory, offers unparalleled benefits to industry and our society. The world-leading 5G research carried out by Bristol, Lund and BT is an inspiring example of this”.

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