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Ordnance Survey leads consortium to build 5G maps

21/11/16

Met Office and 5G Innovation Centre also involved in plan to lay ground for roll out of next generation wireless network

National mapping agency Ordnance Survey (OS) is to lead a consortium of organisations to develop a planning and mapping tool to support the roll out of 5G mobile networks around the country.

Bournemouth aerial 3D viewIt has been appointed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to lead the effort, which will support the spread of internet of things (IoT) technology and various smart places initiatives around the UK. Other members of the consortium will include the Met Office and the University of Surrey 5G Innovation Centre.

The plan involves building a ‘digital twin’ of the real world, which will be used to determine prime locations for antennae for a 5G network. The tool will initially be tested in Bournemouth, which is a test bed for 5G technology, and could be scaled up to the cover the rest of the UK.

Ordnance Survey’s commercial director Andrew Loveless described the tool as “smart map for a smart future”, and said: “The purpose is to deploy 5G quickly and efficiently. Linking OS data to spectrum information and meteorological data will deliver faster speeds and better coverage to connected devices, all the while helping keep rollout costs to a minimum.”

Network barriers

5G involves higher frequency signals which, although providing the larger bandwidth to support IoT applications, operate over shorter ranges than 3G and 4G, and can be hindered by different construction materials or even heavy rain. This requires more equipment and the careful deployment of access points to make it a robust network.

OS said the data visualisation tool will make it possible for network planners to identify most of the relevant points remotely. The model will include the ability to show different weather conditions, tree foliage, the lifecycles of vegetation and details of future building projects.

The Met Office will contribute high resolution weather scenarios derived from weather satellite and radar data to estimate impacts on signal transmission.

Image from Ordnance Survey

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