5G Campus Networks: Build your own

Smart Business

5G Campus Networks: Build your own

Operating a private campus network offers several advantages and will help improve production and enable factory automation. There are three options for building a 5G campus networks: self-build and operation; using a network service provider offering a private campus network as a service; or contracting a mobile network operator offering a 5G VPN by slicing their public network.

by Gerhard Kafka

Private campus networks are designed and deployed by enterprises to optimize or enable business processes. Broadly, there are three drivers to deploy a private 5G network: to guarantee coverage, gain network control, and to meet a performance profle. Coverage will need to be improved in locations with harsh radio frequency (RF) or operating conditions or in remote areas where public network coverage is limited or nonexistent. Control is required to allow configurations that are not supported in a public network to be applied. Security and data privacy are also important controls and the need to retain sensitive operational data on premises is crucial to high-tech industrial companies. Even though 5G has a clear performance advantage over LTE and Wi-Fi in cyber-physical industrial systems, maintaining performance profiles for demanding applications is still a requirement.

A January 2021 report by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has identified 37 countries or territories with private network deployments based on LTE or 5G, or at least with private network spectrum licenses deployed. In Germany, for example, the frequency band from 3,700 MHz to 3,800 MHz is reserved for local and regional 5G networks. The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the German regulator, reported in December 2020 that 108 licenses for local 5G networks had been allocated.

A joint report from ABI Research and Ericsson, Smart Manufacturing and How to Get Started, explains the economic effects on return on investment (ROI) for factories. Deploying dedicated, cellular-enabled Industry 4.0 solutions can generate operational cost savings ROI of between 10 and 20 times over five years. In aggregate, these solutions can generate 8.5 percent in operational cost savings, which equates to $200 to $600 per square meter per year for a factory or industrial site.

5G Campus Networks - Engine Inspection Streaming Video

A Good Look: Engine parts inspection using video stream.

Marc Sauter, head of mobile private networks for Vodafone’s business division, believes, “It is possible to have a million private networks by the end of the decade. In Europe alone we have about a million companies that could benefit from private mobile networks – with most in manufacturing, along with logistics and warehousing, utilities, oil and gas, and increasingly in health care.” The first stand-alone private network in the aviation industry has been installed in Hamburg at Lufthansa Technik. Together with service partner Vodafone and technology partner Nokia, Lufthansa’s repair, maintenance, and overhaul (MRO) group is operating a complete, self-sufficient 5G network covering the core and servers all the way to the antennas. The system is based on the 5G standalone (SA) standard. Lufthansa can configure the network as required, such as specifying the relationship between upload and download rates. “He who relies today on new technologies will stand in front tomorrow,” predicts Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Deutschland.

One application in use is called virtual inspection, where the hyper fast wireless connectivity enables its civil aviation customers to have engine parts inspected remotely. A high-definition video link connects customers directly to the overhaul shop floor, improving efficiency and operational performance. Before the virtual link, customers had to travel to Hamburg with their components, which meant that engines were completely disassembled for inspection. With the new system, Lufthansa Technik can inspect individual engine parts collaboratively over the fast video link.

5G Campus Networks - Vodafon Red Box

ut of the Box: The Vodafone RedBox offers industrial customers a complete 5G network.

Soeren Stark, an executive board member responsible for technical operations, logistics, and IT at Lufthansa Technik, says, “Continuous innovation is part of our corporate DNA and this is what drives us to constantly try out new approaches. The frst application cases already impressively demonstrate the valuable contribution 5G technology can make to the aviation industry. It will also pave the way for numerous innovations at Lufthansa Technik that will benefit our company, our employees, and our customers.”

The Challenge of Augmented Reality

How will 5G degrade when passing through aluminum alloy and carbon fiber? The challenge with the augmented reality system is to display the 3D overlays and give precise, near real-time guidance to the technicians on how to fit cabling and cabin furniture as they make their way through the fuselage. The crew uses beam forming to direct the stream via the antenna to the tablets in the hands of the technicians, and the transfer performance hits 1.2 Gbps outside the hull and 800 Mbps inside it.

The 5G network has kept Lufthansa’s MRO services business humming through 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when consultations with airlines about engine maintenance and aircraft cabin refitting were forced to go online.

5G Campus Networks -Lufthansa Campus

Augmented Reality: Cabin completions showing 3D design of a cabin interior in an empty aircraft fuselage.

Mercedes-Benz Cars and Telefónica Deutschland have deployed the world’s first 5G campus network at the flagship Sindelfingen car manufacturing plant, near Stuttgart. “In Factory 56 we are significantly increasing flexibility and efficiency in comparison to our current vehicle assembly halls – without sacrificing our quality,” says Ulrike Graze, the Mercedes-Benz manager responsible for Factory 56. The unit covers 220,000 square meters, which equates to about 30 soccer fields.

Industry 4.0 Becomes Reality at Last

A core element of the new production facility – an all-digital, flexible, “green” factory – will be the 5G campus network installed by Telefónica Deutschland and O2 in cooperation with network equipment supplier Ericsson. The mobile communications mesh will connect machines and systems intelligently, securely, wirelessly, and in real time. The network is used in ongoing automobile production at Mercedes-Benz. “With 5G, the concept of Industry 4.0 becomes reality. The Mercedes Benz Cars plant in Sindelfingen is setting innovation standards here.


5G Campus Networks - Infografik


The new 5G mobile communications standard is impressive with particularly fast data transfer rates, very high accuracy, and short delay times. 5G is becoming a huge efficiency lever in robotics, in the connection of production facilities, and, thus, in industry as a whole,” says Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland/O2.

Mercedes-Benz is optimizing existing production processes in its plant with the help of new features, including data linking for product tracking on the assembly line. With a separate in-house network, all processes can be optimized and made more robust and, if necessary, adapted at short notice to meet prevailing market requirements. Furthermore 5G links production systems and machines together in an intelligent manner, thereby supporting the efficiency and precision of the production process. A further benefit is that sensitive production information is not exposed to third parties.

Other German car manufacturers, such as Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen, have also decided to deploy 5G campus networks – not to forget the electric-car maker e.GO in Aachen pioneering mobile edge computing and network slicing.

Hanover to Host 5G Exhibition Center

In partnership with Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Messe is gradually transforming its exhibition grounds into an innovative multifunctional campus. Deutsche Telekom is ensuring high-performance 5G coverage over an area of 1.4 million square meters, implementing the campus network as a hybrid one. The showground will eventually have a private network that trade fair organizers and exhibitors can use for their applications. At the same time, attendees have comprehensive coverage through the public 5G network which covers the exhibition area.

5G Campus Networks - Infografik - PM Wolfgang Kretschmann

A Network Is Born: The cornerstone ceremony for the new Mercedes-Benz Cars assembly hall in Sindelfingen was attended by Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of Baden Württemberg.

With the 5G expansion, the Hanover site will be one of the largest 5G campus networks in Europe in terms of area. Initially, Deutsche Telekom is equipping five halls and the entire outdoor area, including adjacent parking lots, before moving on to all 30 halls and buildings. The aim is to create a unique test field for 5G where technology leaders from a wide range of industries can test their solutions.

For , the early decision to have its own 5G campus network covering the entire exhibition center is a strategically important step. “We are thus offering exhibitors and guest organizers of all trade fairs in Hanover the opportunity to present their 5G-enabled products, solutions, and applications live to an international audience,” said Jochen Köckler, chairman of the Deutsche Messe board.

5G Campus Networks - Deutsche Messe Hannover

G Is Fair Game: The Hanover Fairground is being transformed into an innovation campus.

Siemens is also playing a role in this development. As one of the key exhibitors at the Hanover Messe, Siemens is setting up a private 5G campus network, with a focus on industrial use, in one of the exhibition halls. The network can be used by exhibitors during trade shows and, outside of trade show times, it can be used by companies for tests and field trials.

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