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World’s first in-field, standalone 700 MHz 5G network deployed in rural Dorset

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Following a period of intense testing 5G RuralDorset, Excelerate Technology, Satellite Applications Catapult, Jet Engineering and Neutral Networks today announced the successful installation of the world’s first in-field 700 MHz standalone private 5G network, built to serve real-world project use cases along the Jurassic Coast.

Successful connection was made to the 5G network on June 3rd at Durdle Door followed by Ringstead which complements the 3.5 GHz 5G network also installed as part of the project at Lulworth Cove. The system comprises a 5G standalone core at the Catapult’s 5G Step-Out Centre in Westcott, Buckinghamshire, fibre backhaul via the Dorset Innovation Park to the core, and radio systems deployed and operational at the various locations (see map below). Satellite backhaul is also in place for added resilience to the network.

The 700 MHz network has been installed to cover a stretch of coastline at Ringstead, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. The 700 MHz frequency range has the benefit of being able to cover much longer distances along the coast and over water than higher frequency networks. This avoids the need to install masts at sensitive locations such as this UNESCO-designated world heritage coastline. The lower frequency network is also less susceptible to environmental interference such as fog and rain.

The new network will support the Connected Coast use cases which make up the 5G RuralDorset project, an £8 million 5G research and development programme backed by DCMS (£4.8m) and is part of their 5G Testbeds and trials work. The network provides connectivity for digital signage at Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Ringstead and Kimmeridge. Jet Engineering 5G surf condition monitoring buoys will also be connected into this network, supplying sea state information to the signs.

Bethan Evans, operations director at Excelerate which is leading the public safety element of the 5G RuralDorset Project, said: “The testing of the network is a critical point, and this has gone extremely smoothly. This is testament to the collaboration and hard work of all the teams involved since the project began. This testing proved to be a major milestone in how 5G can, and will continue to, play an integral role in improving public safety.

“We are used to leading on large scale and often bespoke, complex projects and really enjoy working with the other partners to deliver this ground-breaking project together. I’m excited about deploying the use cases in the next few weeks and have no doubt they will be as successful as the recently announced use case for Lulworth First Responders, which is paving the way for first responders to connect to the 5G network at incidents.

Kieran Arnold, Director of Ubiquitous Connectivity at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “The first real world use of this 700MHz 5G network is a major milestone for the project as well as for the wider connectivity community. It allows us to provide much needed communications across hard to serve regions of the UK and to demonstrate some of the many services that are now a possibility, from connecting emergency responders to improving safety features across beaches and coasts. We are delighted to be enabling such innovations and working alongside Dorset Council and other fantastic partners to explore the possibilities that 5G can bring to rural Dorset.

The network will also offer coverage for the RNLI and Coastguard along this stretch of coastline, enhancing their ability to respond to emergency situations and further improve public safety along the coast.

Visit the 5G RuralDorset website for more information on the project >>