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Cisco-led project tests underground 5G on the Glasgow Subway

5G RailNext.
(Image credit: 5G RailNext.)

 5G RailNext has announced a pioneering new project to explore new 5G use cases for underground commuters, by setting up a unique private 5G network to connect passengers travelling by train on Scotland’s historic Glasgow Subway.

5G RailNext is a private and public sector consortium led by Cisco, and it includes companies and organisations across the technology, marketing and transport sectors, including the University of Strathclyde, Ampletime, Sublime, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, and Glasgow City Council. And as part of the UK Government's £200 million 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme, it aims to maximise the opportunities around 5G applications and services.

"The University of Strathclyde has vast experience of developing private 5G networks to create affordable connectivity solutions in both urban and rural locations, as well as hosting the Scotland 5G Centre in our Technology and Innovation Centre at Strathclyde", explained principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Professor Sir Jim McDonald. "We are delighted to be building upon our strategic relationship with Cisco, and our other industry and UK Government partners, on this exciting transport project."

The ‘pop up' 5G network

Researchers from the University of Strathclyde installed a ‘pop up' 5G network, which provided track-to-train connectivity between the Buchanan Street and St Enoch stations on the Glasgow Subway.

"By testing 5G in these technically challenging contexts, we have a much clearer idea of what is feasible."

Dr David Crawford.

"5G RailNext has shown that 5G mobile technology is well-suited to providing track-to-train connectivity inside tunnels for underground railway systems,” said Dr David Crawford, 5G Engineering Director from the University of Strathclyde. "The deployed infrastructure created a unique test environment, and by testing 5G in these technically challenging contexts, we have a much clearer idea of what is feasible and how consumers can be reached with personalised and engaging information and entertainment content, delivered through new forms of interactive media."

The 5G RailNext team explored the potential for delivery of personalised advertising content using Augmented Reality (AR) mobile applications enabled by 5G connectivity. And the team also examined the willingness of passengers to use mobile AR through wearable devices such as headsets.

"The rail and metro environments present a market with limited penetration of advertising, marketing, and content services to date, but they have a high-volume, repeat-visit customer base, and our user trials have demonstrated that having the ability to explore and ‘try' products could be appealing to passengers travelling on trains,” said Peter Shearman, Cisco's Head of innovation for UK & Ireland.

"Interactive media and AR-based advertising could help to improve passenger experience, enable new marketing channels, and create new revenue streams for advertisers, media owners, and operators," he concluded.

Dan Oliver

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.