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5G: Die digitale Zukunft startet in Hamburg © HPA/Andreas Schmidt-Wiethoff

Port of Hamburg on course to digital future with 5G tests

5G expected in 2020 - new mobile radio standard ten times faster

The Port of Hamburg recently launched a new slot-booking process for truck drivers to avoid bottlenecks and to relieve traffic. Efforts towards greater efficiency will receive yet another boost from the new 5G mobile radio standard as part of a project with HPA Nokia and Telekom when tests begin in January. Remarking on the development, Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) said: “Improved management of traffic lights in the port using 5G is one of the first areas for testing when two trials begin in January.“

The port is Germany’s largest and in terms of TEU throughput, Hamburg is the second busiest port in Europe after Rotterdam and 15th-largest worldwide. In 2014, 9.73 million TEUs (20-foot standard container equivalents) were handled in Hamburg. Lorries transport over 50 per cent of goods in the harbour and account for around 1.8 million annual truck runs. Digital solutions help manage traffic on over 140 kilometres of roads there.

Tests in Germany and ltaly

5G is the proposed, next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT and will be standard in 2020. Tests are being conducted in Germany and Italy at present. Venice received the nod to test 5G in tourism while industrial possibilities are being tested in the Port of Hamburg. The EU has set aside EUR 7.7 million in funding for this test. The introduction of the new standard will vastly improve digital infrastructure as 5G is ten times faster than the predecessor generation. Such swift data transfer rates form the basis for the Internet of Things and key technologies such as autonomous driving.

Network slicing

But 5G can do far more, Meier stressed, adding: “Speed and reach are the main criteria when introducing a new standard. But 5G brings entirely new features and above all network slicing.” That allows a network operator to provide dedicated virtual networks with functionality specific to the service or customer over a common network infrastructure. So it can support many diverse services. For Hamburg, that means the existing antenna network can be expanded by another transmitter on the TV tower and by two or three smaller transmitters in the port region, if needed.

Meier pointed out: “This net-in-net technology is comparable to landline networks in terms of security and reliability. It offers us an opportunity to achieve more security, swifter and forward-looking applications for the port.” Apart from managing traffic lights, that may include ship-linked environmental sensors that register real-time data from the port or radio connections to other infrastructure.

Two-year technology lead for city

Meier said: “We have highly-digitalised surroundings in the Port of Hamburg. So we were certainly predestined for the test. Innovative technologies are being used here like traffic sensors or intelligent display panels and our experiences, whether good or bad, will go towards urban projects.”

Tests of 5G give Hamburg a two-year technology lead. “We are gaining valuable experience and when the standard becomes reality in 2020, we know what, when and where it can be used. That is priceless – both for the Port of Hamburg and the City of Hamburg,” said Meier. The tests allow HPA to define the standard and include features that are relevant to the port and it’s development. Hamburg is thus shaping the future tangibly.

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