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Improving 5G at sea

Through its Measurement for Recovery (M4R) programme, NPL is working with JET Engineering System Solutions to make world-beating 5G products.

JET Engineering System Solutions have been contracted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) funded 5G RuralDorset project to deliver a network of their 5G Surf Condition Monitoring System (SCMS) buoys. JET Engineering System Solutions is now working with NPL to optimise this industry-leading marinised 5G capability.

With launch scheduled for this month, this will be the first operationally deployed 5G data buoy in the UK. JET’s SCMS buoys measure and report in-shore wave height and currents for water safety to multiple end-users, including the general public and emergency services.

The maritime environment is known to be operationally complex for any technology and there are two key challenges specific to the effective use of 5G communications at sea. The first is the effect of sea state negatively impacting 5G performance, as the relationship between wave height and communication is presently unknown. The second is how to optimise use of the limited amount of electric power self-generated by 5G connected platforms that are deployed remotely and for extended durations.

As part of the M4R programme, NPL are providing world-leading technical support to help accurately define and provide improved solutions to help mitigate both of these challenges. Split into two projects, the first project is de-risking the SCMS and compromises preparation and validation stages. 

The NPL delivery team for the first project is led by David Humphreys PhD, CEng, FIET, Principal Research Scientist at NPL, who said of the project, “We are looking forward to working with James and his colleagues at JET, supporting British Industry to make a world-beating 5G product that will make beaches safer in the UK and worldwide.”

The second project will identify the most suitable off-the-shelf smart antenna to ensure reliable 5G data link at maximum range. Smart antennas allow energy to be directed to where it is required to increase signal-to-noise ratio and can improve the capacity of wireless communication networks significantly, as well as increase the spectrum efficiency and reduce the transmit power required. The NPL delivery team for the second project is led by Prof Tian Hong Loh, Principal Research Scientist, NPL.

James Thomas, JET CEO, said, “As a business we are immensely grateful for the chance to work with NPL. Their assistance has helped us understand the options that will rapidly develop our product family and help us continue to grow our business rapidly and agilely. The support we have received through the M4R scheme is exemplary. Rarely do you meet such knowledgeable technical teams with such a significant wealth of information and access to decades of relevant research, as well as being so keen to create solutions for new problems. For example, the product enhancements proposed are expected to increase our communication range by 300%. We genuinely believe that our objectives of delivering a step-change capability for high bandwidth comms at sea will ultimately benefit everybody, in terms of improved safety, security, environmental protection, and genuine sustainability."

01 Feb 2021