The future of mobile communication is called 5G. This gigantic network is currently being officially tested in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg by the 5G Mobile Network Architecture (5G-MoNArch) research project funded by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. A transmitter which is installed at an elevation of 150 m on Hamburg’s television tower covers the 8,000 hectares of testing ground in the port area.
5G offers mobile connectivity with a degree of reliability, safety and at a speed which has not been possible with previous generations of mobile networks, facilitating completely new fields of applications and services. Being up to ten times faster than LTE with a maximum bandwidth of 10 Gigabit per second, and introducing isolated virtual networks – so-called ‘Network Slices’ – 5G is able to fulfill the extensive demands of the Smart Sea Port. Network slices allow to define and deploy multiple networks tailored to specific applications, thereby running on a common infrastructure. The network slices can be flexibly and dynamically adapted to changing requirements or new applications, which allows the fast adjustment of the communication infrastructure to new business needs.
The Port of Hamburg is testing the implementation and realisation of 5G and network slicing in a real-world operational environment, to gather hands-on experience with the capabilities of the new communication system, and to explore the arising possibilities for improving the port’s operations and processes. The focus of the implemented applications is on improving the traffic and infrastructure control as well as the environmental monitoring within the port area. For example, traffic lights are connected to the central traffic control and steering system using a wireless connection, which is clearly faster and cheaper to install compared to a fixed line. This approach would even allow to integrate temporary traffic lights at construction sites. Environmental measurements acquired from sensors – partially installed on mobile barges roaming within the port – are meant to be gathered and processed in real-time. In addition, Augmented Reality-based applications are planned to help maintenance teams controlling the infrastructure to create a safer environment.
All these applications have different requirements on the underlying telecommunication network in terms of the number of terminals, amount and characteristics of the data, mobility etc, but they all require a very reliable and safe connection. The 5G Smart Sea Port testbed in Hamburg addresses these requirements with its unique setup.
The project consortium of the 5G Smart Seaport Testbed comprises Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Samsung and Hamburg Port Authority.