Port of Riga – Seamless 5G Connectivity in the Baltic Sea

“Seamless 5G Connectivity in the Baltic Sea” is a cross-industrial collaboration between a port technical service provider (LVR Flote) and a 5G mobile network operator (LMT). It aims to enhance maritime communications by ensuring 5G connectivity over open waters. It addresses the need for real-time, high-capacity data exchange in maritime operations to improve industry efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and unlock new use cases.

The project develops the multi-hop concept – the 5G network signal is passed on from one ship to the next, enabling shore-to-ship and ship-to-ship communication. It envisages ships becoming floating base stations, creating a dynamic 5G network over open waters. This will create a maritime infrastructure for deploying autonomous ships, USV drones, and other innovations. It will also enable new use cases, from real-time pollution monitoring and control to automation of certain port operations.

One use case is hydrographic surveys by LVR Flote. These require large volumes of data transfer. A 5G network enables smooth communication between the ship, its USV “OTTER,” and the coast. Other benefits of 5G connectivity at sea include enhanced resource efficiency, reduced emissions, improved maritime safety, and higher port operations effectiveness. The Port of Riga is, therefore, actively involved in initiatives focused on the effective use of new-generation mobile networks and innovations in data processing and port supervision.

The multi-hop concept was first successfully tested in November 2023 in the Port of Riga on board LVR Flote’s ship LĪVA – the first 5G technology-equipped ship in the Baltic Sea. More tests are run to see how far a signal can travel over water to clarify the required vessel density at sea to ensure seamless 5G coverage. The project’s long-term objective is to join forces with the region’s largest ports and stakeholders, creating a connected maritime ecosystem in the Baltic Sea and beyond.