A major 5G breakthrough has been achieved at the University of Kent ahead of the expected 2019 rollout of the next-generation mobile connectivity technology.

The iCIRRUS consortium, which is based at the University of Kent and also includes Orange, the University of Essex and the UK’s Viavi Solutions among its members, achieved speeds of 5Gbps in tests.

Its trials used traditional wired Ethernet equipment behind the scenes to get the 5Gbps in a real-life setting at the headquarters of Slovenian telco Telekom Slovenije.

The 36-month project was funded by EU Horizon 2020.

If the widely used Ethernet can be used in the back end, 5G could become more affordable to customers which then receive it over fibre networks.

Last year EE and Huawei achieved speeds of 2.8Gbps in UK trials.

Plans to roll out 5G technology in the UK recently took a leap forward after the government announced the winners of a £25m competition.

Six projects led by SMEs, universities and local authorities will be receiving between £2m and £5m in government grants to set up 5G testbeds across the UK.

The projects will test 5G technology across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, using the Internet of Things to improve healthcare in the home, increasing manufacturing productivity and maximising the future benefits of self-driving cars.