Skip to content


Smart Sound Connect Wins 5G Innovation of the Year Award

6 October 2022

Smart Sound Connect, the world’s first ocean-focussed 5G testbed, has been recognised by the mobile sector as a cutting-edge innovation platform for the development of the next generation of marine technologies. 
Smart Sound L4 data buoy At the 20th Mobile Industry Awards, held at Lancaster House in London on the 22nd September, Smart Sound Connect was named as the 5G Innovation of the Year (Product/Service).  This prestigious award represents a significant endorsement of the network by the mobile industry and recognises a world leading marine innovation initiative based in Plymouth.
Led and run by Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Plymouth City Council, the network utilises leading technology from Vodafone, Nokia and Steatite. Benefitting from £1.8 million of funding from Heart of the South West LEP, the network is free of charge to use for businesses looking to utilise high speed, low latency data networks at sea to develop innovative marine solutions.
Smart Sound is also a key asset to the global offering of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport by strengthening the region's position as a marine autonomy super cluster.
The Freeport will support further investment and innovation opportunities for Smart Sound Connect by supporting marine science seabed research and Offshore Renewable Energy logistics solution trials. As the UK’s first 5G connected ocean trialling area there are plans for Smart Sound to expand along the coast and to subsea obstacle courses and testbeds. Smart Sound will engage with the Freeport Regulatory Network (FREN) through this process.
“We are delighted that Smart Sound Connect has been recognised for its innovation and ingenuity” said Professor Icarus Allen, Chief Executive of Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). “This is an incredibly exciting project for the marine industry and the marine sciences, and the use of 5G to integrate the Smart Sound fleet of autonomous platforms is a critical part of delivering a world-leading testbed for advanced marine technology.” 
“Winning this award is a significant achievement for Smart Sound Connect and a ringing endorsement of what Plymouth as a location is offering to the marine sector,” said Richard Bingley, Leader of Plymouth City Council.  “By supporting the development of the next generation of marine technologies, we are developing an environment for high end jobs and significant economic growth in the area.”
Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “It’s brilliant to see this innovative project receive industry recognition at this year’s Mobile Industry Awards. The creation of this 5G network is supporting businesses in the marine tech sector to innovate, which in turn will enable them to accelerate business growth, attract further investment, and excel in global markets. We look forward to continuing our support for Smart Sound Connect, as it provides testing and deployment opportunities for cutting edge technologies, including exciting developments in autonomous marine vessels.
Andrea Donà, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone said, “We are very proud to win the 5G Innovation of the Year award this year. This project has the capability to create a lasting impact to the environment and we hope this Smart Sound platform can further develop the scope of marine technology using our 5G network.”
Stephane Haulbert, Head of Enterprise Partner Business in Europe from Nokia said: “At Nokia we are committed to working with industry partners leveraging technologies to help communities, enterprises and other entities deliver on their sustainability, operational and economic development goals. Being part of this 5G marine testbed is a prime example of this, allowing us to showcase the capabilities of industrial-grade private wireless networks and how they can be used to foster innovation.”
Alastair Wallace, Group Business Development Manager, Steatite Ltd, said: “Steatite is delighted to be part of Smart Sound’s success story and industry recognition of this 5G initiative. We look forward to seeing our cutting edge radio technology deployed in Plymouth Sound.”

Explore the Smart Sound Laboratory at Plymouth Marine Laboratory >>


Related information

Share this story: