Smart ports in Europe – five key private 4G/5G deployments – RCR Wireless News

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Smart ports are just about the easiest place to put a private 5G network right now – at this point in the development of 5G technology, when outdoor coverage and mobility are its key benefits. This is because shipping terminals feature large outdoor spaces with moving machinery and vehicles, which might be automated, plus a whole bunch of data that might be used to optimise traffic systems and respond to weather systems. 

In truth, without much research, we could have come up with a list at least twice as long for this little exercise. As it is, a research note from SNS Telecom & IT has prompted us just to pull-out and round-out its list of high-profile private 5G projects in ports, and other venues, from all around the world; we took its single European entry as a starting point, and had a quick search of the RCR Wireless archives to make it into a clean five-point European summary. 

As reference, in case you are interested, SNS Telecom & IT has trawled the web already, and listed a long list of global references, as follows: “Hutchison Ports, PSA International, APM Terminals (Maersk), COSCO Shipping Ports, CMPort (China Merchants Port Holdings), SIPG (Shanghai International Port Group), Ningbo-Zhoushan Port Group, Tianjin Port Group, Zhuhai Port Group, Shandong Port Group, EUROGATE, VPA (Virginia Port Authority), Barcelona Port Authority, Port of Tyne and ABP (Associated British Ports).” 

Many appear below, and elsewhere on the RCR Wireless website. In the meantime, here is a quick rundown of five important European 4G/5G port projects. American and Asia entries may yet follow.

1 | Port of Tyne, UK

The Port of Tyne has deployed a private 4G/5G network across its southern cargo terminal and industrial site in South Shields in the northeast of England. The project has been managed by UK operator BT, which has provided localised tranches of its licensed b7 (2.6 GHz) and n77 (3.7 GHz) spectrum for the exclusive management of 4G (LTE) and 5G applications, respectively, by the port authority and clients. Network vendor Ericsson has supplied dual private 4G/5G core and radio (RAN) networks. The setup is billed as the UK’s “first site-wide private network deployment… for smart port applications”. Read more.

2 | East-West Gate Terminal, Hungary

A brand new 85-hectare container terminal, opened in 2022 near Hungary’s border with Ukraine, the intermodal East-West Gate (EWG) shipping terminal was built to load trucks and trailers carrying Ukrainian agricultural goods, particularly, from railway rolling stock onto container ships, to go around the world. The whole project cost HUF40 billion ($95 million); Chinese vendor Huawei stood-up a private 5G network for it. Analyst house SNS Telecom & IT writes: “The terminal’s private 5G network has increased productivity from 23-25 containers per hour to 32-35 per hour and reduced the facility’s personnel-related operating expenses by 40 percent while eliminating the possibility of crane operator injury due to remote-controlled operation with a latency of less than 20 milliseconds.”

3 | Port of Barcelona, Spain

A five-year smart-port project, started last year (2023), which will see Spanish operator Orange bolster its public 5G radio infrastructure around the port of Barcelona in order to develop a “virtual” private 5G network to advance connectivity, mobility, and safety at the site, including for remote worker tools, automating machinery, and emergency comms. The carrier has said the total investment in the project will be €3.6 million ($4.04 million) over its period. Orange has also talked about enabling large volumes of IoT sensors. Ericsson and Nokia, plus Oracle Communications, have all been engaged, apparently. Read more

4 | Port of HaminaKotka, Finland

Part of an early rush of Finnish activity with private 5G in the ports sector; industrial networking specialist Edzcom, now part of Boldyn Networks, deployed private 5G networks at shipping terminals in Mussalo and Hietanen in Kotka for Steveco, Finland’s largest port operator. Italy-based Athonet, since acquired by HPE, provided the core network. The two sites in Kotka, on Finland’s southern coast, share the same core network but run separate RAN infrastructure. Nokia is understood to have provided the RAN elements. The Finnish vendor collaborated with Edzcom on a private LTE setup at neighbouring Hamina (which forms part of the larger Hamina-Kotka port, with Mussalo and Hietanen), along with Steveco. Edzcom has also worked with Nokia at the Port of Kokkola and the Port of Oulu in Finland, as well as with port machinery maker Kalmar and mining operator Sandvik. Collectively, these are the models for cellular-enabled port operations. Read more.

5 | Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands

Dutch industrial tech provider Koning & Hartman and Irish private-network provider Druid Software have built a private LTE network at the port of Rotterdam, using spectrum licensed by the Dutch regulator for local usage. It is being used for multiple applications, including worker comms, industrial automation, and IoT monitoring. Rotterdam wants autonomous ships by 2025-2030. To achieve this, it has planted sensors across its 42-kilometre port area, with the objective to create a digital twin of the site’s set-up and operations to mirror, track, and pre-pilot everything from shipping movements and infrastructure to weather and water depth. IBM and Cisco are also involved. Read more.

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