Marion Kessing

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Research platform for 5G in an industrial environment starts in the Port of Hamburg

  • 8,000-hectare site to carry out key tests of 5G applications
  • 5G MoNArch project’s main goal to gain knowledge and experience from 5G network slicing in ‘real-world’ environment
  • Use cases include traffic lights management, data processing from mobile sensors and virtual reality applications

The testing of 5G, the next-generation communications standard, is beginning right now at the Port of Hamburg. After six months of preparations, the project partners Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), Deutsche Telekom and Nokia have commissioned a test area spanning around 8000 hectares of the port area. 5G will be tested with use cases like traffic lights management, data processing from mobile sensors and virtual reality. To provide the connectivity, an antenna has already been installed on the Hamburg television tower at a height of more than 150 meters.

The primary focus is on testing 5G applications in an industrial setting in the Port of Hamburg. Such settings require a telecommunications network which is highly reliable and secure. At the same time, it needs to support a broad range of diverse services (applications). The Port of Hamburg, which is both, a logistical hub and a touristic attraction, offers multiple use cases that place very different demands onto the network. For example, HPA wants to manage traffic lights on the port site using mobile communications. Also, they plan to collect and process environmental measurement data in real-time. Finally, Virtual Reality applications can be used to better monitor potentially critical infrastructures like watergates and construction areas– thus enhancing safety in the port.

Building up a 5G antenna on the Hamburg TV tower at 185 meters altitude.

Building up a 5G antenna on the Hamburg TV tower at 185 meters altitude.

The project partners are now testing if these services, each of which have specific network demands, are reliably working on just one mobile network infrastructure. This is made possible using Dedicated virtual networks, known as “network slices”, in the 5G testbed. Each of these is supporting a specific service. For example, separate virtual networks will be used to control traffic lights and to transmit environmental measurement data. Network Slicing is a key architectural approach in 5G to dynamically and flexibly adapt networks to the requirements of different applications. In the Port of Hamburg, such a network with several “network slices” is being tested under live conditions in an industrial setting for the first time in Germany.

The two-year research project with the name of “5G MoNArch” (5G Mobile Network Architecture for diverse services, use cases, and applications in 5G and beyond) aims at turning 5G mobile network architecture concepts into practice. A main goal is to gain knowledge and experience from using 5G network slicing in a real-world environment, and to thereby prove and improve the underlying technical concepts and methods. Whereas the testbed in Hamburg integrates 5G into control and monitoring systems for traffic and infrastructure in a sea port environment, a second testbed in Turin is focusing on multimedia applications. 5G MoNArch is supported and financed as part of Phase II of the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP), under the auspices of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.

5G antenna on the Hamburg TV tower at 185 meters altitude.

Left to right: Jens Meier, CEO Hamburg Port Authority, Wilhelm Dresselhaus, Member of the Management Nokia Deutschland, Antje Williams, Telekom 5G Executive Program Manager and Frank Horch, Senator für Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Technologie der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg.

“This testbed in Hamburg is an important development step along the road to 5G,” says Claudia Nemat, Board Member for Technology and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom. “We need practical experience which we can get in the Port of Hamburg. Our goal is to understand how we can best adapt our network to customer requirements. The production industry and the logistics sector in particular are going to reap the benefits of 5G as a powerful lever for many applications.”

Peter Merz, Head of End-to-End Mobile Network Solutions from Nokia Bell Labs, said: “The 5G field trial in the Port of Hamburg is thrusting open the door to a new world of business applications, with the potential to drive change in many areas. This is about making industrial processes much faster and more flexible. For the first time, all of this is going to be tested under live conditions in Hamburg – the importance of this project cannot be rated highly enough.”

“5G offers a level of security, reliability and speed never seen before in mobile networks. HPA is opening up completely new use cases,” says Jens Meier, CEO of HPA. “We can start gathering experience of this cutting-edge technology right now and shape the standard. This is going to benefit the whole City of Hamburg, not just the port.”

5G background

5G is the communications standard for the future. It is a completely new network concept that integrates fixed networks and mobile communications. Unlike previous technological advances, the main focus of 5G is not solely on further increases in bandwidth or speed. 5G will support a very wide variety of applications, with completely different requirements in terms of speed, response times, security and capacity.

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