An article by Claudia Nemat, Member of the Deutsche Telekom AG Board of Management, Technology and Innovation.
0,9 Gbit/s, 1,15 Gbit/s, 1,35 Gbit/s – the digital speedometer needles were pushing far beyond the old limits. 5G at this year’s IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) was mainly about speed. Most visitors at our booth wanted to get a glimpse of our presentation devices to see for themselves what the new standard can do. But 5G is not a simple continuation of 2G, 3G, 4G, with higher speeds.
Put simply, 2G enabled mobile voice communications, 3G unlocked mobile access to the internet and 4G opened the door to smooth mobile video consumption. Now, 5G connects the virtual and real worlds in ways previously unimaginable. This will create completely new experiences and possibilities, for example in entertainment, gaming, education, health or industrial production.
5G will thus become an essential building block in the global race of national economies in the coming decades. Therefore, we are getting together with large and medium-sized companies on September 27th in Berlin. For an open dialogue on dedicated industrial applications at the 5G user conference “5Germany”, initiated by Deutsche Telekom and organized by Handelsblatt.
For the industrial sector in Germany, digitalisation is a major priority. According to managers, politicians and investors, the German industry should not only be able to keep pace with international competition. It should lead. It should secure jobs. It should look into the future. And we would like to understand industrial requirements and collaborate in shaping the digital future. 5G will become an essential part of industrial value creation for products and services as well as production processes.
Imagine, for example, an industrial campus. On it, a very large number of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) autonomously navigating and transporting goods or finished products. Ideally, this requires a data centre on or near the campus site, a so-called Edge Cloud. Algorithmic intelligence for controlling the AGVs is provided from this cloud. Via a mobile connection with low latency, high reliability and precise positioning. If on top of that, large numbers of sensors for measuring environmental data need to be managed on campus, it requires high usage densities in the network and reliable solutions for the Internet of Things.
5G networks and their inherent technical parameters address this:
- latency times in the lower millisecond range
- extremely high usage density of up to 1 million connections per km2
- very high reliability of up to 99.999%
- precise location detection in the range of less than 10cm
- unmatched energy efficiency with up to 10 years battery life for IOT devices.
With these performance parameters, 5G, in combination with computing power from the Edge Cloud and artificial intelligence, meets the specific, industrial requirements much better than previous solutions. Only with 5G, a secure and widespread Internet of Things can become a reality. Only with 5G, the seamless integration and control of autonomous machines, or smart cities full of sensors and real-time reactions will get going.
That is why we want to discuss, clarify and refine together with the industry and Handelsblatt the requirements regarding supply, latencies, bandwidths, availability, etc. of different use cases for the network. We want to gain a deeper understanding of the different industrial and production processes. We want to try this out early and, in the best co-innovation manner, together with our customers and partners. And we want to tailor our networks as closely as possible to their needs in order to fully unlock their potential.
The core of the 5G rollout for the industry and the most important driver for the 5G launch are campus networks. They offer companies their "own" infrastructure and thus the opportunity to optimize production processes or to realize completely new business processes. The campus network established for our partner Osram is a pioneer in this field. Together, we are testing and exploring the intelligent factory of tomorrow. With autonomous transport systems managed by an extremely reliable and powerful network.
Deutsche Telekom is already working closely with our partners in the industry. While others are still demanding, we are already exploring. We develop applications in our T-Labs and also invite start-ups and small/medium-sized companies to work with us on the products of the future in our 5G test laboratory. We also have innovation partnerships with the Smart Factory of the German research centre for artificial intelligence (DFKI) and with the Center Connected Industry (CCI) at RWTH Aachen University.
We are continuously expanding our 5G ecosystem for the industry. Next to network technology provider Ericsson, more players from production and development disciplines are joining in. These partners are more than just customers: Each one contributes its own experience and specific know-how from the Industry 4.0 sector. Some details:
Already in July, E&K Automation joined the program. The manufacturer of driverless transport systems has reached a key milestone this summer supported by Deutsche Telekom incubator Hubraum. E&K Automation was able to equip fully automated, ultra-flat transport robots with several 3D cameras and, for the first time, implemented 3D obstacle recognition with dynamic path planning in the Edge Cloud. This allows such vehicles to react instantaneously to obstacles placed in the track and to avoid them.
Konica Minolta is further developing its AIRe Lens product together with Deutsche Telekom. With these special augmented reality goggles, fitters can assemble machines step by step. In the future, a mobile radio module will be integrated into the goggles, providing it with ample bandwidth via the campus network.
Endress + Hauser is a specialist in sensors for the process industry. As market leaders, they manufacture filling level, flow, pressure and temperature sensors. At the same time, they are one of the first manufacturers to equip such sensors with mobile radio modules. As a result, a much larger number of parallel sensors can transmit important process data in real time to a data centre.
Other partners are already in the starting blocks to make Deutsche Telekom's campus networks even more versatile. The goal is to be able to meet the special needs of all industries. Together, we are on the right track.
Deutsche Telekom will also combine its expertise in the area of connectivity for all industrial and business customers in a single unit. This will further simplify and accelerate the design and implementation of campus networks for our customers.
I am looking forward to an exciting event in Berlin and the exchange with our customers and partners!