Plymouth Sound in the U.K. is to be home to the world’s first 5G ocean-based marine testbed, putting the city at the forefront of marine and maritime innovation.
Part of the Marine Business Technology Centre’s (MBTC) testing and proving ground Smart Sound Plymouth, the testbed will be enabled by a 5G mobile private network built by Vodafone using Nokia equipment.
The network, known as Smart Sound Connect, will enable ultrafast download speeds and low-latency 5G connectivity to support the development of new marine technology.
Eligible businesses will have free access to the testbed to test 5G use cases including advanced applied autonomy, clean propulsion, smart ports, smart shipping, and environmental monitoring using the Internet of Things (IoT).
The full testbed will be available from early 2021 and will also form the basis of a proposed virtualized testing platform to allow companies to validate ideas and test adjustments in a virtual environment.
Comprising nearly 1,000 square kilometers of authorized and de-conflicted water space, the Plymouth Smart Sound facilitates trials, validation and proving of marine innovative technologies across a diverse environment.
From trials in shallow benign environments to deeper hostile waters Smart Sound can facilitate a wide range of conditions.
With few testbeds offering connectivity beyond the shore’s edge, Smart Sound Connect can support a variety of use cases currently unavailable anywhere in the world.
“5G can accelerate developments in marine technologies, and this is another area where the UK can be a global leader with the right digital tools and skillset,” said Rob Watson, MBTC Director.
Stephan Litjens, General Manager, Nokia Digital Automation said: “Working in partnership with Vodafone and MBTC on this ‘world-first’ and helping to drive world-leading marine and maritime innovation is an exciting prospect. This ocean-based deployment will highlight all the flexibility and performance advantages that industrial-grade 5G private wireless can bring to organizations that need connectivity in challenging conditions.”
Vodafone will provide 4G and 5G connectivity using four mobile sites at the inlet, and an additional site offshore.
The network will utilize Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC), a digitalization platform capable of providing high-bandwidth, hyper-fast private networking and edge computing capabilities.
A compact, plug-and-play system that comprises network equipment and a cloud-based operation monitoring system, Nokia DAC enables users to securely collect, process and host all generated proprietary data on-site.
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