Location, location, location essential to the future of 5G


Nigel Clifford, Ordnance Survey CEO

Mapping isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think about 5G, however, without accurate location data, the reality of a connected 5G nation is just a concept.

The challenge for the 5G rollout concentrates on the fragile strength of signals and the distance which they can travel, as well as the impact the built and natural environment has on these. Everything from different construction materials, trees and the weather can markedly reduce the capability for radio signals to travel.

Nigel Clifford, Ordnance Survey CEO, said: “It is no longer enough to put an aerial on a mast, the planning for 5G has to be more intense and it is critical that this is carried out at street level. At OS we maintain a national geospatial database of over half a billion points describing Great Britain, and it is this street level, micro-geography which is critical to 5G planning.”

To make 5G a success, access points and network equipment must be deployed where the impact of the built and natural environment has minimal effect. Discovering where to best place the large amount of equipment required for a national 5G network would be a very time consuming and costly exercise of trial and error, but through accurate OS location data, the vast majority of the work can be done from a desk through intelligent 3D visualisations.

OS has been leading a consortium to build a digital twin of the real world in Bournemouth. This next generation data tool has been used to enable planning and determine the prime locations to place the radio antennae (access points) necessary to enable a 5G network.

Nigel added: “Bournemouth has become the most intensely mapped part of Britain. In creating a highly accurate digital model of the real world, with added in attributes and intelligence, OS is taking mapping and data visualisation to unprecedented new levels. It is a Smart map for a Smart future.”

OS believes that its accurate location data and expertise can be scaled up to cover the rest of the UK, and shared with other countries as they develop their own 5G networks.

Nigel continued: “Accurate, up to date location data is a critical ingredient in the drive to have a truly connected nation. This has been demonstrated in the early 5G activity and across other OS projects, including Smart City activity in Manchester and autonomous vehicle projects across the county. Location data is the fuel of the digital economy.”

For further information visit os.uk/5G or contactcommercialenquiries@os.uk