In the last edition of the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona, Piloto 5G Catalunya received the GSMA Foundry Excellence Award 2023 for its contribution to consolidating the implementation of an open innovation ecosystem that takes advantage of 5G technology as a lever for digital transformation and sustainability. The project is promoted by a consortium led by Cellnex and the MásMóvil Group and which includes the technology company Lenovo, the Catalan operator Parlem Telecom, the company specializing in augmented reality Augmenta Solutions, Atos engineering, the Nae consultancy, and spin- off the Barcelona Supercomputing Center Nearby Computing.
The project, which also has the collaboration of Mobile World Capital, was one of the winners of the second call for aid for the development of 5G pilots launched at the end of 2019 by Red.es –an entity of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation– within the framework of the National Plan for Smart Territories with the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (Feder).
The initiative has made it possible to test the advantages of pure 5G together with 'edge computing' technology in terms of speed, connectivity, latency time and consistency, in combination with other technologies in full development such as Open RAN, augmented reality or the autonomous car through seven use cases in areas such as mobility, remote education, the industrial sector, distance commerce, audiovisual transmission and security and emergency management in areas with high seasonal occupancy such as the beaches of Barcelona .
Cellnex has demonstrated the benefit of a neutral network applied to locations with a high density of people, such as Barcelona's beaches, allowing the City Council to minimize visual pollution and carbon emissions from multiple networks.
One of the examples developed is the application of 5G for the emergency services of Catalonia, which benefited from the application of this technology. In this environment, 5G networks have shown that critical situations can be prevented by facilitating rapid intervention, giving access to multiple sources of information, and optimizing and speeding up decision-making in critical situations.
The consortium has also implemented a 5G Autonomous Bus that provides sustainable mobility solutions in large enclosed spaces, demonstrating the usefulness of this technology for safe autonomous driving thanks to the information collected, including ultra-low latency support, sending useful information quickly and communication between devices in motion.
Regarding the field of education and training, it created a holographic support to facilitate the exchange of information at a distance. Thanks to 5G, the interaction between the parties was a reality and shows that another form of training is possible even at a distance.
In addition, 5G has been used for virtual purchases through the figure of the 'personal shopper', in markets such as La Boqueria, which can combine 5G with artificial intelligence, and be able to recognize products, locate them in space and display additional information. . The combination of both technologies made it possible to demonstrate how, through connected devices, it is possible to select the products to buy in real time.
This technology also allows improvements in the communication sector, such as multi-camera broadcasts that have been tested in the pilot with the collaboration of La Xarxa and Betevé.
As for the industry, thanks to this technology, Seat has monitored the electromechanical supports responsible for transporting the bodies of the vehicles to more precisely identify their location in the areas of the maintenance plants.
To take stock of the conclusions of Piloto 5G Catalunya, Diálogos en La Vanguardia, with the collaboration of Cellnex, organized a panel discussion last Monday with the participation of some of the agents involved in this ambitious project, such as the head of the Commissioner for Digital Innovation, Electronic Administration and Good Governance of Barcelona City Council, Michael Donaldson; the director of innovation and product strategy of Cellnex, Eduardo Fichmann; the innovation director of MásMóvil, José Jiménez; Lenovo's Telco Solutions Architech in the 5GCAT project, Jorge Conejero; and the founder and president of Aumenta Solutions, Pere Roset.
“The project, which ended on January 30, thanks to the commitment of all those involved with open innovation, made it possible to test the challenges and benefits of deploying the multi-operator 5G network in a planned manner for a city like Barcelona. And we are satisfied with the result”, celebrated the Cellnex innovation director.
From the Barcelona City Council, Donaldson recalled that "public-private collaboration" is essential, since "there are so many technological disruptions that are taking place that it is difficult for citizens to understand their magnitude". Hence, for the person in charge of the Commission, the "importance of all working in unison to carry out initiatives to test the technology and make it clear that it is possible to carry out concrete changes".
Among the challenges to be addressed, the experts coincided in pointing out cybersecurity, which is improved by combining 5G with 'edge computing', to process data as close as possible to where it is produced. In addition, it allows technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, among others, to advance.
The digital divide is one of the biggest challenges, in the opinion of the founder and president of Aumenta Solutions. "The pilots allow us to see how we can apply the technologies for the benefit of all of society," he stressed. Regarding the advantages, as a company specialized in augmented and holographic reality, he highlighted that "the content revolution is going from 2D to 3D", an impossible leap "without advanced networks such as 5G". “The metaverse wouldn't exist without advanced networks,” he insisted.
5G represents "a paradigm shift, since it will allow the widespread use of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, through the use of sensors that collect and process information in real time, thanks to the low latency it provides." 5G”, agreed the innovation director of MásMóvil. “The operators are delighted that these open innovation initiatives exist, since it is the only way to move forward. Cities must be the first to apply it, so that it can then quickly reach the rural environment in public-private initiatives”, he explained.
For Jorge Conejero, Barcelona is an "ideal" scenario to carry out this type of project aimed at transforming urban environments into smart cities, since "it is a world supercomputing pole", as well as the world headquarters of the Mobile World Congress and other fairs that work for technology and sustainability such as the Smart City Expo. “Smart cities must be designed to improve people's lives,” concluded Lenovo's Telco Solutions Architech on the 5GCAT project.