5G is the “next big transformation in the network – the next big revolution if it is done the right way,” according to Thomas Magedanz, Head of NGNI at Fraunhofer Fokus, who spoke this morning at the LeadersIn Broadband Summit at Broadband World Forum.
Magedanz’s team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems are working on the prototyping of new technologies such as software based networks and agile software deployments. “It is the software which is really making 5G a very different network deployment, particularly in the area of network slicing.” This technology means enterprises could become their own network operators and with this we are looking for a completely new agile network environment.”
The 5G Innovation Centre here in Berlin, created by Fraunhofer Fokus, is now approaching start-ups and smaller enterprises to look at smart city applications with this new technology. “5G is not only a set of new radio access technologies but most importantly a radical new software based network platform, a key integration platform.”
Magedanz told the audience that 5G “brings the cloud principle to telecommunications” by allowing infrastructures to be scaled and descaled. This offers a great deal of potential for innovation because operators can start applications small, like some of the OTT players, and scale according to demand.
With everyone in the industry currently looking to Asia for the practicalities of deploying and using 5G, as they look to undertake major trials at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, Magedanz is hoping that projects in Europe can also make great contributions to 5G. He discussed some exciting trials taking place in Broadband World Forum’s new host city of Berlin. The 5G Ready Trial Platform, a project sponsored by city of Berlin to kick start the technology in the city, allows application, software and network equipment developers to test how 5G works on the street. Infrastructure has been built in the centre of the city as a result of this project allowing for real world testing.
“A smart city is the best place to prototype 5G applications,” said Magedanz, and this trial platform “is an infrastructure to spark innovations.” The project is getting in touch with startups, operators and vendors to make use of the testbed.
They are also currently working with some health companies here in Berlin, using their own data centres and trial platform to develop dedicated network slices for health applications, for example to connect devices which are exchanging health information about a patient. Prototyping is also taking place on some of the larger events which take place in Berlin in the field of safety environments, to enable technologies such as remote drone control to be used on the network.