New Communication Standard: 5G Industrial Environment Trial Platform launched in the Port of Hamburg

The Port of Ham­burg is the test­ing ground for 5G, the next gen­er­a­tion mo­bile stan­dard that is set to trans­form com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Af­ter six months of prepa­ra­tion the pro­ject part­ners - Ham­burg Port Au­thor­ity (HPA), Deutsche Telekom and Nokia - have now launched a test­bed that stretches across some 8,000 hectares of port area. A base sta­tion has al­ready been in­stalled on Ham­burg’s tele­vi­sion tower, over 150 me­tres up in the air.

The test­bed in the Port of Ham­burg has pri­mar­ily been set up to test 5G ap­pli­ca­tions in an in­dus­trial en­vi­ron­ment. Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works for in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions must be ul­tra-re­li­able and highly se­cure as well as sup­port mul­ti­ple use cases. The ap­pli­ca­tion needs of the Port of Ham­burg are di­verse and the re­quire­ments on net­works are par­tic­u­larly high. For in­stance, mo­bile net­works will be re­lied on to co-or­di­nate traf­fic lights within the port area and to col­lect and process en­vi­ron­men­tal data in real time. On top, vir­tual re­al­ity ap­pli­ca­tions will be de­ployed to man­age the in­fra­struc­ture bet­ter and thus make it safer.

The pro­ject part­ners run the trial 5G net­work to de­ter­mine if the use cases, each of which has dif­fer­ent data trans­port re­quire­ments, func­tion re­li­ably in a sin­gle net­work. The 5G trial net­work is par­ti­tioned into vir­tual net­works - so-called net­work slices - which are then cus­tomised to meet spe­cific port ap­pli­ca­tion needs. For ex­am­ple, the sep­a­rate vir­tual net­works - or slices - sup­port traf­fic light co-or­di­na­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal data trans­mis­sion. Net­work slic­ing in 5G net­works de­liv­ers greater net­work flex­i­bil­ity and sup­ports the port’s nu­mer­ous and var­ied use cases. The Port of Ham­burg will be the first lo­ca­tion in Ger­many where a net­work with sev­eral net­work slices will be tested un­der real life in­dus­trial con­di­tions.

The 5G trial pro­gramme in the Port of Ham­burg forms part of the two-year 5G MoNArch re­search pro­ject (5G Mo­bile Net­work Ar­chi­tec­ture for di­verse ser­vices, use cases, and ap­pli­ca­tions in 5G and be­yond). 5G MoNArch aims to put 5G mo­bile net­work ar­chi­tec­ture into prac­tice by de­ploy­ing 5G net­work slic­ing in real life test en­vi­ron­ments and use the in­sights gained to re­view and im­prove ex­ist­ing con­cepts. While the test­bed in Ham­burg is pri­mar­ily used to trial the in­te­gra­tion of 5G into traf­fic and in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment sys­tems, the sec­ond test­bed of the pro­ject in Turin fo­cuses on multi-me­dia ap­pli­ca­tions. As a 5G In­fra­struc­ture Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (5G-PPP) Phase II pro­ject 5G MoNArch is co-funded by Hori­zon 2020, the Eu­ro­pean Union’s Frame­work Pro­gramme for Re­search and In­no­va­tion.

“5G of­fers a level of se­cu­rity, re­li­a­bil­ity and speed that cur­rent mo­bile net­works are un­able to match. It pro­vides the HPA with a wholly new set of ap­pli­ca­tion op­tions,” ex­plains Jens Meier, CEO of the HPA. “The test­bed al­lows us to study the fu­ture tech­nol­ogy and co-shape the stan­dard, which will not only ben­e­fit the port but the en­tire city of Ham­burg.”

“The test­bed in Ham­burg is a piv­otal step to­wards adopt­ing 5G tech­nol­ogy,” says Clau­dia Ne­mat, Mem­ber of the Man­age­ment Board of Deutsche Telekom, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion. “We need prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and the Port of Ham­burg is a per­fect test­ing ground. We want to un­der­stand what we need to do to best adapt our net­work to meet our cus­tomers’ spe­cific re­quire­ments. The in­dus­try and the lo­gis­tics sec­tor in par­tic­u­lar will ben­e­fit from 5G as a strong lever for a wide range of ap­pli­ca­tions.”

Pe­ter Merz, Head of End-to-End Mo­bile Net­work So­lu­tions of Nokia Bell Labs, says, “The 5G trial pro­gramme in the Port of Ham­burg opens the door to a whole new world of busi­ness ap­pli­ca­tions that have the po­ten­tial to change a lot of sec­tors. The aim is to con­sid­er­ably speed up in­dus­trial processes and make them more flex­i­ble. We will test all that in Ham­burg un­der real life con­di­tions for the first time. The im­por­tance of the pro­ject sim­ply can­not be over­stated.”

What is 5G?

5G is seen as the com­mu­ni­ca­tion stan­dard of the fu­ture; an en­tirely new net­work con­cept that com­bines ter­res­trial and mo­bile net­works. Un­like tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances of the past, which solely fo­cussed on in­creas­ing broad­band width and speed, 5G will sup­port a wide range of use cases that all have dif­fer­ent speed, la­tency, se­cu­rity and ca­pac­ity re­quire­ments. 5G will play an im­por­tant role in new ap­pli­ca­tion sce­nar­ios cre­ated by the in­ter­net of things and In­dus­try 4.0. Be­sides the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try the lo­gis­tics sec­tor in par­tic­u­lar will ben­e­fit from 5G mo­bile tech­nol­ogy.