The Finnish 5G test network projects have progressed to the second stage, in which companies and third parties are being invited to develop new, network-based services. The test network projects cooperate under the 5G Test Network Finland (5GTNF) coordination action led by VTT.
The Finnish public broadcasting service Yle is one of the partners in the 5GTNF ecosystem formed around the test networks.
Risto Huoso, Development Manager, Online and Distribution at Yle explains that it will one day be possible to exploit high-capacity, low-latency wireless communications in media productions and distribution.
– Via the project, we examined how the 5G network can be adapted to programme making, particularly production which requires high capacity, low latency and scalability, he says.
A network connection is always required for live TV and radio broadcasting. The current problem with major public events is that the mobile network easily becomes congested. In situations where text messages cannot be sent and calls cannot be made from mobile phones, production too is impossible.
– Nowadays, you have to build your own wireless network connecting up cameras for TV productions, which is laborious and expensive. If a 5G network were already in place at concert venues and sports grounds, it would make all aspects of high-definition production possible, Huoso says.
Live broadcasts from the field
Yle's roving reporters would also benefit from the technology of the future, which they could use to send live images directly over the network. In this way, the 5G network would also serve as Yle's production network.
According to Risto Huoso, in its 5G trial Yle also aims to explore the technical potential of the LTE-based Broadcasting technology in media production and distribution. This would enable the far more extensive use of network capacity than now.
– In this way, several users could receive a broadcast at the same time, as with the traditional broadcast model on current radio and TV networks.
Applications for services for the elderly
Another partner involved in the projects is Caritas, a charitable organisation from Oulu.
The organisation, which produces social and health services for individuals, companies and municipalities, has begun developing home care for the elderly based on 5G. The first project location is sheltered housing, with 102 elderly residents, in TakaLyötty. Most of the residents need home care services on an everyday basis.
According to Nina Hynninen, Director of Elderly and Home Care Services at Caritas, 5G technology will help to ensure the right timing of home care services.
– Elderly clients are to be visited when they need help. The timing of visits will not be based on the clock. When care can be targeted, service quality will improve and become more personalised, she says.
In practice, the project will be implemented by installing sensors in sheltered housing for the elderly, based on which their everyday actions can be monitored and the service need evaluated.
The need for care can be assessed on the basis of issues such as the client's movements, and water and power consumption. Data provided by the sensors will be gathered in a cloud service over the 5G network.
Hynninen explains that two sheltered residences – a two and three-room flat – and the residents and their near relatives will initially be involved in the project.
– The next step involves connecting indoor and outdoor positioning to the systems, in order to guarantee the safety of patients with memory loss, for example, both inside and outside.
Karjasillan Verstas will have 5G capacity
The third partner is Hartela Pohjois-Suomi Oy, which is developing the Karjasillan Verstas area close to the centre of Oulu.
The Karjasillan Verstas Business Lab, where businesses can test and develop new residential products and services, has been established to develop the area.
Helena Moring, Project Manager of the Business Lab, explains that 11 new apartment buildings will be built and an old school building renovated on the site. The entire area will receive 5G capacity at the same time.
– The renovation will begin in early 2018; the network architecture for the Karjasilta school and the design of the 5G test network and sensors are now under way. Estimates will be made of issues such as the day care centre's actual need for sensors from both the real estate and operational perspectives, she says.
Joint demos reveal the potential of 5G
The 5thGear programme of Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation – includes four test network projects, around which the 5G Test Network Finland (5GTNF) ecosystem has formed. The shared 5GTNF platform can now be used in large-scale testing, pilots and demonstrations.
5G Test Network Finland cooperation is being coordinated by VTT, which also has the task of promoting collaboration between the participating projects. 5GTNF Coordinator, Senior Scientist Jarno Pinola, comments that joint demonstrations provide tangible examples of the potential of 5G.
– Each company has its own goals in terms of using a high performance wireless network. For example, Yle's development work is focused on content production in the field and its more efficient distribution over mobile networks, he says.
The construction of open 5G test networks began in 2015, and now the partner group that has formed around them is being expanded. Pinola points out that, in the coming years, the experimental R&D conducted for the projects will focus strongly on practical demonstrations and pilots.
The 5GTNF ecosystem is seeking more partners from vertical industry sectors, such as digital healthcare, automotive, energy, manufacturing, media & entertainment, and emergency and security services.