East of England
Home to internationally acclaimed Cambridge University, the region boasts Europe’s largest tech cluster
With expertise in deeptech and the most patent applications in the UK per 100,000 people, Cambridge is arguably one of the best places for innovation. The region offers far more than just Cambridge though, encompassing Millbrook Proving Ground with its 5G network and autonomous vehicle testing capabilities, as well as Peterborough with its globally recognised smart city programme and BT’s R&D function at Adastral Park.
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Top UK tech clusters
full-fibre-to-the-premises gigabit network in Peterborough
Technologies & trends
The region boasts expertise and capabilities in a number of key telecom fields. Learn more about the relevant technologies.
The potential benefits of 5G, future wireless generations and full-fibre digital connectivity can only be realised if we have confidence in the resilience of our infrastructure.
Cyber East is an industry body working alongside the UK Government to develop the cyber security industry in the UK. They partner with cyber security businesses in the East of England and provide a platform for collaboration and growth, attracting inwards investment in the East Anglia area.
Essex University's Cyber Initiative focuses on research and education dedicated to addressing the deep integrations and close interactions among cyber systems, physical systems, and social systems, which could involve information systems, energy systems, human activities and environmental factors.
Wireless networking is experiencing a period of exciting change with the development of new generations from 5G to 6G, WiFi 6 and 7, offering new use cases and business cases that extend far beyond just faster speeds.
BT's main research facility is located in Adastral Park, Ipswich including not only their own R&D function but also the BT TEAC TEAC (TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centre) UK Lab, which provides an opportunity for successful start-ups to work closely with BT engineers, while having access to BT's network infrastructure, hardware and testing facilities.
Cambridge Wireless is a community of over 1,000 companies involved in the research, development and application of wireless and mobile, internet, semiconductor and software technologies. They stimulate debate and collaboration, harnesses and shares knowledge, and help to build connections between academia and industry.
Core networks are critical infrastructure and new digital technologies and trends have the potential to disrupt and transform, ensuring capabilities, resilience and performance can meet emerging and future needs.
The 5G DU-Volution and Scale Optical Fronthaual for 5G OpenRAN projects, both including the BT Ipswich-based R&D team, are exploring core networking in the context of Open RAN.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is disrupting industry on a broad scale and the telecoms sector is no exception, with Valuates projecting that the global AI in telecoms market size will reach $14.99B by 2027, up from $11.89B in 2020.
Cambridge produces one of the highest rates of AI businesses in the UK, supported by both strong academic pedigree, University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin particularly, and a number of global tech firms, for instance Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, establishing their AI R&D teams in the city.
The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI), based at the University of Cambridge, has built a new interdisciplinary community of researchers, with strong links to technologists and the policy world, and a clear practical goal: to work together to ensure that we humans make the best of the opportunities of artificial intelligence as it develops over coming decades.
Network management systems can be a critical driver of business value in the telecom industry, facilitating improved customer experience, optimised infrastructure operations and management of threats.
From batteries and sensors to antennas and lasers, the telecoms industry makes use of a broad range of materials and components such as copper, aluminium, ceramics and silicon, demonstrating diversification and innovation in the supply chain.
The University of Cambridge Semiconductor Physics group works with industry to explore and develop new physics using advanced semiconductor technology, with a particular specialty in the use of new types of semiconductor nanostructure.
Cambridge is also prominent in the manufacturing and production of compound semiconductors.
Diversification of the telecoms supply chain is ultimately about choice, a desire to broaden the choice of equipment and solution providers in the sector-driven by commercial, technical and geopolitical factors.
Ipswich-based BT is participating in a significant number of diversification projects: REASON, Proteus, Scalable Optical Fronthaul for 5G OpenRAN, ARI-5G and 5G DU-Volution. The East of England is also represented in the Flex-5G (where Cambridgeshire County Council are a partner), Best of British RAN Development (with Cambridge-based partner CellXica) and Towards AI Powered and Secure Carrier-Grade Open RAN Platform (partly located in Cambridge) projects.
Deploying 5G in Places
We've spoken to local authorities up and down the UK, to hear first hand how they've approached digital infrastructure and connectivity programmes. Designed to be both practical and pragmatic, we've collated insights, assets and guides that can be replicated and adapted to help you on your journey to 5G.