Rogers-UBC Partnership: Canada’s First 5G Network

ICICS is the Relationship Manager for a multi-million dollar partnership between Rogers and UBC formed in 2018, resulting in a real-world 5G network on the Point Grey campus, as a “living lab” testbed for 5G innovation. North America’s first 5G campus network includes 5G towers throughout the UBC campus and an edge computing enabled data centre. The partnership was recently renewed until 2025.

The 5G network is being used by UBC researchers to test 5G applications in a real-world setting, with projects spanning three phases:

Phase I Project Examples

  1. Campus as a Wireless Living Lab: Integrating 5G Wireless into UBC’s Clean, Connected and Safe Transportation Testbed
  2. 5G Infrastructure to Enhance Urban Mobility and Safety
  3. Earthquake Early Warning System over 5G
  4. Immersive AR/VR Video

Phase II Projects

A second round of projects  started in Fall 2020 based on proposals emerging from several “foundry model” workshops. In these workshops, over 40 interested researchers from across UBC and Rogers staff identified problem statements that led to proposals submitted by multidisciplinary groups. The focus is on using operational data from UBC infrastructure to address sustainability challenges faced by modern cities, with societal impact as a primary criterion. Projects include:

  1. 5G-enabled Smart Buildings for Energy and Space Management
  2. 5G Framework for Natural Asset Management
  3. Intelligent Transportation Data Platform and Environmental Sensing for Sustainable Cities

Phase III Projects

Phase III multidisciplinary team-based projects identified through foundry-model workshops commenced in September 2021, enabled by the renewal of the UBC-Rogers partnership. Projects address pressing societal problems, and include:

  1. Wildfire Prevention and Smart Forests
  2. Timely and Extended Monitoring in Emergencies and Disasters
  3. Human Teleoperation over 5G

Student Challenges

ICICS hosts student challenges tackling problems of interest to Rogers and their industry partners, and that required 5G solutions. These challenges provide crucial experiential learning opportunities for students, and a chance to showcase their talents. The competitions also generate promising solutions to pressing societal problems and help build partnerships with industry. Challenges to date have included:

  1. Multi-access Edge Computing Codeathon (October 2019) with Rogers, Ericsson and MobiledgeX. Computer Science and Engineering students worked on use-cases using MobiledgeX libraries for gaming and facial recognition app development.
  2. Smart Cities Ideation Challenge (March 2020—virtual) with Rogers, Blue City Technology and Microsoft. Engineering, urban planning, and business students tackled urban issues identified by Kelowna. One of the student team solutions led to a pilot project in Kelowna.
  3. Smart Transportation Case Competition (October 2021—virtual) with Rogers, the City of Vancouver, and NoTraffic. Students from engineering, computer science, and business formed multidisciplinary teams to find solutions to Vancouver traffic congestion using 5G technology.

Research Seminar

Highlights of the partnership were presented at a 2-day online research seminar held in June 2020 with 600 attendees.