5G enables new applications, Photo: AdobeStock, greenbutterfly

28. September 2021

New research infrastructure: 5G Exploration Space Salzburg

The 5th generation of mobile communication (5G) is a promising technology. However, how can the added value of the new technology be realized? And will the promised properties actually be achieved? Under the leadership of Salzburg Research, a 5G research infrastructure was established in 2020, which can be used by science and companies to test applications and products.

The fifth generation of mobile networks not only promises peak data rates of up to 10 gigabits per second, but above all extremely low latency, high availability, high reliability, and high energy efficiency. In addition, each 5G cell can serve significantly more devices than older standards.

5G is not an “all-encompassing” network

Currently available systems in the market are not yet capable of fulfilling all of these characteristics. The configuration of a 5G network will also remain a constant compromise, as all characteristics cannot be equally well fulfilled at the same time. “An end device can either be provided with the highest bandwidth or the highest reliability. Both at the same time is not possible, as resources are required either for bandwidth or for reliability. Therefore, there is no “all-encompassing” 5G network,” explains Peter Dorfinger, head of the 5G Exploration Space at Salzburg Research.

“Data can be transmitted in real-time via 5G, as the latency under optimal conditions must be between one millisecond and a maximum of ten milliseconds. However, this is still a vision for the future. Currently available systems in the market are not yet capable of fulfilling these promised characteristics,” Dorfinger continues.

Therefore, the operation and actual configuration of a 5G network must be adapted to the specific requirements of the application. The 5G Exploration Space Salzburg is testing four relevant 5G use cases in different areas to exclude interactions and ensure security and privacy.

Provider-independent monitoring tools

“New technology should never be an end in itself,” says Dorfinger. “That’s why it is important that the promised features can be verified and consistently ensured by a neutral party.”

At the 5G Exploration Space Salzburg, independent monitoring tools are being developed to supplement this effort. This allows the technology to be safely operated for critical applications. This includes remote monitoring and coordination of mobile robots and Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs). Delays in signal transmission could lead to serious accidents in such scenarios. “Specially designed 5G measurement tools will constantly verify compliance with the required specifications,” Dorfinger explains. This aims to ensure that users of 5G can independently verify the promises made by manufacturers or operators.

Four use cases from Salzburg

Four specific applications are being researched in the 5G Exploration Space Salzburg. They focus on requirements that current 4G networks cannot yet meet. The 5G network is operated in various configurations to evaluate which configuration can achieve which performance characteristics:

  • 5D Smart Campus: A digital live model of the Science City Itzling is being developed here. 3D data foundations, fixed-position sensors, and mobile devices are combined to enable smart services for orientation, maintenance, and better use of resources and infrastructure.
  • Remote control of (industrial) robots: Robots are to be controlled in real-time within laboratories and across different mobile locations via a 5G network.
  • Real-time feedback in sports: Movements are captured using sensors, intelligent linkage and processing of various sensor data, and results are transmitted back to athletes as real-time feedback.
  • Collaborative design of urban space: In real-time, an augmented and virtual reality space is created that people can design and experience together, and which can be virtually enriched with games, for example.

Know-how for Salzburg

The expertise and technologies from the 5G Exploration Space Salzburg are passed on to companies in the region. This is because 5G can be implemented with relatively low investment costs. In most industrial applications, a comprehensive 5G network is not needed, but rather a local network within a factory or facility.

The 5G Exploration Space Salzburg also creates a regional testing environment for 5G applications, in which companies of all sizes and industries can test their own 5G applications or products.

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