Business Engagement - BT

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Fraser Burton, Head of University Partnerships, BT Research and Technology

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Fraser Burton - Head of University Partnerships, BT Research and Technology

I'm Fraser Burton. I lead BT's university research program. Where we are today is at Adastral Park which is BT's global R&D centre. Particularly where we are right now is in our quantum key distribution lab where we are doing some of the leading research on pushing forward secure communications.

We are not arrogant enough to think that we have all the answers, we need to see contrary views, we need to challenge our own thinking and we always need to be bringing in new talent, we really need a constant supply of world-class researchers, and working with UK universities supported by EPSRC is central to that.

5G in particular is very much the communications format for the future. Much more than simply going faster, it is also much smarter, it's the ability to draw on licensed and unlicensed spectrum and for the mobile base stations to self-organise, to deliver a mobile service which is unimaginable with the existing technology.

We work with the University of Surrey, specifically with their 5G innovation centre, and we also work with EPSRC to fund four PhD students there, along with a research associate, and this is on the full range of 5G technologies from access technologies, all the way up to the artificial intelligence systems which will be managing 5G in the future.

Where we are right now is in our quantum lab and as a physicist myself I am always very excited about quantum technology and our particular interest in the telecom spaces in quantum key distribution, which is basically using the physics of quantum mechanics to ensure that communications cannot be hacked, which in today's insecure world is very valuable. What these guys here are doing is ruggedizing quantum communications, making sure it works over deployed fibre at very high speeds and is reliable.

Working with the University of York. The University of York has, under an EPSRC programme, been leading the quantum communications hub for the last few years, along with eight other universities and the expertise that we have from the quantum communications hub and working with our industrial partners, has enabled us to start whirling out new products that will ensure a secure world guaranteed by the laws of physics.

We have worked with EPSRC over the last few decades very much as partners, we share the same goal of growing the UK's economy building on world class research excellence and I would encourage smaller and medium sized companies to pick up the phone and call EPSRC - they will be able to tailor something for you that suits your scale. There is a real wealth of university research to draw upon.