Recently the 56K.Cloud Team visited a 5G Lab, and 5G showcase center in Zurich, Switzerland (one of our first "physical") meetups since COVID-19 lock down started back in March 2020. It was exciting to finally get out, meeting co-workers and see some physical results after many months working remotely.
Talking about Results!, the Sunrise offices just outside Zurich host the Joint Innovation Center and 5G Open Lab together with Huawei. The center hosts many live demos of various use cases and new business verticals possible with 5G, and it's surrounding technologies it enables. Everything from Smart Farming, Immersive Reality to Smart Manufacturing and super-fast mobile phones are showcased here.
Along with the centre is a examples of the physical technology that is behind 5G, here you can see sensors on cow's, the antenna's and equipment that support the network, how the telecommunication network has gone completely TCP/IP to the radio! A real life demonstration of the switch from voice switching to packet switch. The setup boasts 3x 5G indoor sites, 100Mhz on 3.6Ghz and 2x 4G sites where 4G carrier aggregate (CA) is supported. This provides access across various Bands (B1, B7, B9 and B20). 3G is also provides which can enable migration testing scenarios. All infrastructure is connected to the live network and on location is live core where applications can be deployed on the edge. With the decommissioning of 2G technologies across many major European mobile operators, Sunrise is still supporting the 2G network past 2020. However, globally evidence is clear, voice over Wifi/LTE is going mainstream along with any data that was pushed over legacy GPRS. And as we can see, this centre is well positions to test, validate and demonstrate readiness of existing mobile data applications.
October of 2019, Sunrise demonstrated a world record in C-Band throughput of of 3.67 Gbit/s
The centre has three main goal, to Inspire 5G Ideas, Create a 5G Ecosystem and serve as a platform to host such developments around 5G, enabling customers and partners to test prototypes in the 5G Open Lab and showcase them at the exhibition hall. That said, I had to do some testing myself ;)
As the same building hosts a Co-Working space, I decided I’ll take the indoor 4G+/5G network for a test, being already a Sunrise customer I setup two speedtests just outside the JIC and 5G OpenLab. After some attempts it was clear, even on 4G+ connection, the connectivity was faster then the standard public Wifi. I even checked the local connectivity of the WiFi, full bars it was good, however possible due to local conditions and upstream limitations the WiFi couldn't make it past 180Mbit/s where 4G+ connection was getting close to 300Mbit/s but according to the standard 5G network, no special access or conditions. I'll have to re-visit again with a 5G Modem ;)
The centre also hosts meetups. Last week Smart City Alliance hosted a meetup at the JIC, some impressions below from that evening. One topic that was covered well is Machine Learning and connectivity in Smart Farming. We learned about a project with Fenaco (a large association that works in the Agriculture business) and ZHAW (Local technical university). They explained how 5G could not only expand on the initial objective of plant identification and classification system. It uses Machine learning to detect and identify each weed and where it is located. That data is used to monitor the crops and manage the location of water irrigation and to prevent overuse of fertiliser. The project started back in 2008/2009. But due to technical limitations at the time and very little robustness the full solution could not be realised. Forward today with fast connectivity options such as 5G and cloud technologies it can be implemented in a complete and robust way.
However, the potential that 5G enables is rapidly being realised. Enabling many possibilities, we see great opportunity in IoT and Edge Cloud. This will bring with it new business vertical and an array of new applications solving problems that where not seen feasible in the past. To address this, we've been working with the Sunrise team at JIC and ZHAW on a new EU proposal to address the developer tooling and extensibility of the technology. We aim to address the lack of interfaces between the various cloud technologies we see today, Kubernetes, Knative, Web-Assembly to name a few. By bringing these technologies into a coherent, constant and both align and adapt them into the mobile community
And there are exciting 5G topics in the pipeline, with the various research funds that exist as well as access to such platforms. We hope together to build out better knowledge, access to technologies, and competence in this area.
Getting the building blocks right!
Over the past year we can see various platforms are being developed to integrate Robotics, ML, and 5G in a single developer friendly and rapid prototyping hardware. This won't be just the first generation but the foundation to establish the building blocks required to bring 5G as a key requirement in enabling new possibilities. Take for example the Qualcomm 96Boards new Robotics kit. This is right on track to providing people with a perfect hardware footprint to build out their 5G applications.
Coupled with the services and products we've seen developed over the year in the cloud, 5G looks to be on-track to further enabling new business verticals that were otherwise not possible before. But the next 18 months will be interesting evolution in the telecommunications sector, from COVID-19 response with everyone going remote and 5G just coming over the horizon. The stage is set for another disruption, question is will the business model's adapt in time to ride the wave of 5G innovation.