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UK government-backed trial uses ‘digital twin’ technology to plan 5G networks

CGA Simulation.
(Image credit: CGA Simulation.)

5G technology, especially in its purest mmWave form, is incredibly fast, and boasts almost real-time latency, but it has one major issue: it struggles getting through walls, trees, and pretty much any other physical object that sits in the way.

This means that planning for the introduction of 5G, especially in urban areas, requires businesses and local authorities to think about where 5G small cells will be located, which enable 5G to be accessed indoors.

To deal with the headache of planning for 5G, Liverpool-based tech company CGA Simulation has created a planning tool that enables you to create a ‘digital twin’ of an area, so planning can take place in a digital environment first, and this technology is now being used to help the ‘Liverpool 5G Create’ project.

“Using the planning tool we can analyse how a 5G connection penetrates through walls, and where 5G nodes should be placed."

Jon Wetherall, CGA.

“The tool creates a 3D digital copy of the network build area using local data from Ordnance Survey, local authority mapping, and Office of National Statistics, to accurately access where houses, roads, lamp posts and street furniture are located - replicating these in a visual display,” explained Jon Wetherall, managing director of CGA. “Using the planning tool we can analyse how a 5G connection penetrates through walls, and where 5G nodes should be placed to navigate around obstructions like trees.”

Liverpool 5G Create

Liverpool 5G Create is a £7.2m project, funded by DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport), as part of its 5G testbed and trials programme, which is tasked with showcasing how 5G can support different sectors in the UK.

The cutting edge planning tool, designed by Liverpool tech company CGA Simulation, saves time and resources for projects planning a 5G network (5G testbeds, local authorities, and transport hubs, including train stations), allowing them to plan their network build online first. 

“The tool maps where on lamp posts, the side of buildings, or street furniture, the 5G nodes should be placed."

Andrew Miles, Liverpool 5G.

“The tool maps where on lamp posts, the side of buildings, or street furniture, the 5G nodes should be placed to communicate effectively - via ‘line of sight’,” said Liverpool 5G’s technology lead, Andrew Miles. “This reduces planning time as the hard work can be done online rather than by foot. 

"It is a cost effective, efficient and easy to use alternative for teams on a tight budget. The planning tool can also generate a ‘kit pack’ for planning teams, which lays out the exact technical parts a team needs to erect the working 5G network. They know exactly which parts to order and when,” Miles 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.