Home5G & BeyondBT supports Qualcomm 5G lab, wins air traffic renewal deal 

    BT supports Qualcomm 5G lab, wins air traffic renewal deal 


    5G labs are springing up as operators plan route to make money with 5G Advanced 

    BT Group is collaborating with Qualcomm to support the vendor’s new 5G lab facilities in Farnborough, United Kingdom.  

    The facilities include 5G test labs with BT Group’s live environment installed, providing a platform for the partners to continue to test and validate new 5G technologies that will they say will help with faster deployment and commercialisation of next generation 5G features and services. 

    The two have been working together for more than a decade, with Qualcomm actively collaborating in BT’s EE mobile labs in Borehamwood and Bristol. 

     BT Group senior manager, device technology Naveen Khapali said: “By working directly with Qualcomm Technologies in an embedded 5G lab, we’ll be able to realise the benefits of closer working, helping to bring the next generation of technology to our customers sooner.” 

    Qualcomm Technologies International business development director Vikrant Jain added: “Our state-of-the-art lab facilities will help facilitate and speed up the time-to-market, which means customers can benefit from the new technology sooner. We value our relationship and that has been running for over a decade, and we would like to thank BT for their continued support on this advancing innovation.” 

    In addition to its own 5G lab work, BT has been involved in several government-funded labs and testbeds such as Worcestershire 5G testbed as a service. The UK Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy this year announced a £40m fund to create 5G Innovation Regions, to drive the adoption of 5G by businesses and the public sector across the UK. The strategy also looks to the future of technology, setting out a new 6G strategy and announcing up to £100m of R&D funding for future telecoms technologies. 

    The UK lists at least six 5G interoperability testing labs with varying levels of accessibly for organisations wishing to use them – and with more of an Open RAN focus. The list excludes several 5G labs from vendors like Nokia’s London lab with CGI.  

    BT pushing tin with NATS 

    BT separately announced a seven-year renewal deal with National Air Traffic Services that will see the telco take responsibility for the consolidation and modernisation of NATS’ critical data network as well as manage digital networking and cyber security across its sites. 

    BT will also develop an enhanced cyber security capability with NATS, which will include a new proactive central coordination point for cyber resilience. 

    NATS handles more than 2.5 million flights every year, providing air traffic services at 14 UK airports and managing all UK airspace from two air traffic control centres located at Swanwick in Hampshire, and Prestwick in Ayrshire. It also provides air traffic services at Gibraltar Airport and, more recently, Hong Kong International Airport. 

    NATS has been with BT since 2004, when it awarded the telco a £32m deal carry all communications between NATS’ radar, communications and air traffic control centre sites, including voice telephony, ground/air communications, radar, flight and meteorological information, flight plans and NATS’ IT network. 

    It was known as the DaVinci platform – Data and Voice Integrated NATS Communications Infrastructure.  

    In 2009, NATS built what it said was the world’s first full safety certified back-up virtual operations room, the Virtual Contingency Facility (VCF) – an exact replica of the visual control room at the top of the control tower on the airport. 

    NATS engineers worked with the airport authority (BAA) and BT to replicate connect DaVinci and its AMAN, CACC, CCDS and surveillance systems to the new facility. 

    BT director of central government Andy Rowe said: “Under the partnership we will be responsible for both network provision and cyber security within the NATS strategic supplier ecosystem and will be embarking on consolidating and modernising the entire network to build a world-class digital infrastructure that is fit for the future of air traffic management.”