Dense Air, the neutral host operator of the connected 5G testbed at Millbrook originally created by the DCMS 5G testbed and trials project AutoAir, has announced a major upgrade of the hyper dense, high performance 4G and 5G network. The network will be one of the first, and the largest standalone 5G neutral host network's in Europe. Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) developers will have access to the latest technology, including low latency connectivity, network slicing and the opportunity to test vehicles in more advanced networks which are available in key export markets.
These enhanced network technologies will be deployed at Millbrook's 700 acre independent test facility in Bedfordshire in early 2021. In addition to its extensive test tracks and laboratories, Millbrook is home to the UK Government Controlled Urban Testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – part of CAM Testbed UK.
The AutoAir network is being migrated to commercial grade Open RAN, disaggregated RAN and cloud native 5GC based 3GPP 5G SA (standalone) technologies, making extensive use of Airspan Networks' product suite. This deployment supports the UK Government's supply chain diversity initiative and is compliant with emerging O-RAN standards which seek to democratise the supply of Radio Access Units within an open source platform.
The network will operate on spectrum at 4G Band 40 (2.3 GHz), 4G Band 3 (1.8 GHz) and 5G Band n77 (3.8 & 4.2 GHz) under pioneering shared access licenses. This will allow private networks to work with their own allocation of radio spectrum for test and development, whilst also supporting public access from mobile network operators. The n77 band is the same as is already in commercial operation in Japan and which is currently being auctioned in the USA by the Federal Communications Commission. This means that users will be able to test CAVs in the UK, using the latest network frequencies, before exporting vehicles to Japan and the USA.