KCL’s Centre for Telecommunications Research has been awarded a substantial fund by DCMS to develop UK’s leading 5G capabilities, in partnership with the 5GIC and the University of Bristol. The testbed comprises a fully 3GPP-compliant 5G air interface with radios at 3.5GHz powered by Massive MIMO technology and 28GHz powered by millimetre wave specifications. The radios are front hauled into the baseband unit and then into the virtual radio access network; the resulting data flow is then routed into the virtualized core network. The testbed is completely softwarised, hosting all 5G functionalities as VNFs on commodity hardware. The testbed is being used by academia and industry to drive next-generation innovation.
In addition to the 5G capabilities, the system also features a fully functional 4G radio network using several pico cells distributed around the Strand campus. The system features a fully virtualised RAN with a local breakout and a core residing at Ericsson’s facility in Aachen. The 4G system also includes a remote radio deployment in London’s Guildhall where two additional pico cells are deployed and provide coverage in the Roman Arena and the reception.
KCL also runs its own independent Openstack deployment for VNFs, used for OAI, consisting of over 600 cores and 1TB of memory. All three independent systems are interconnected over a 10Gbit fibre infrastructure with orchestration capabilities using OSM and ONAP. The entire testbed is connected over 10Gbit fibre to the 5G exchange point in Slough, shared between UoB and 5GIC for inter-domain orchestration and cross-domain slicing.
Container-based virtualisation is also offered via two independent Kubernetes deployments, also connected to the infrastructure and offering standard compute power as well as GPU acceleration for machine learning and AI workloads. Several hosts are available in the 5G lab featuring nVidia GPUs for AR/VR applications.