By Terry Boyd
(This article was published first on Dispatches Europe: https://dispatcheseurope.com/eindhoven-biz-briefing-dispatches-tours-the-5g-hub-for-the-whats-next-in-tech-edition/)
(Editor’s note: The rollout of 5G networks in the Netherlands began in 2020. The Dutch government currently is auctioning 5G frequencies through 2022. However, that rollout is limited because the Dutch Ministry of Defense has reserved the 3.5 gigahertz spectrum for its intelligence agencies.)
Technology is accelerating far faster than most of us can cope. But Eindhoven is fortunate to have two new innovation hubs at High Tech Campus Eindhoven – one dedicated to artificial intelligence and the other to 5G. Take 5G … honestly, we didn’t get it. It was an abstraction, the next generation of digital communications network. Or something like that, we were never quite sure.
Then Dispatches got to tour the 5G Hub at High Tech Campus Eindhoven and it all got real.
Imagine if you’re at a (post-COVID) concert in Amsterdam and Dua Lipa and DaBaby come on stage to do “Levitating.” Everyone lights up their smartphones and the entire cellular network goes down because there just isn’t enough bandwidth for everyone to shoot high-res video, post on Insty, and text at the same time.
Not with a dedicated 5G mobile network.
Or say you’re an architect using a garden variety iPad and want to see full 3D detail of a street that only exists in cyberspace.
Only with a 5G network.
Or say you want to drive an autonomous vehicle via a video image and send it far beyond line-of-sight range with no control lag.
You’d better have 5G.
That’s the feeble take of a complete neophyte non-tech person. Now, the question is, what can you – an entrepreneur, engineer, or developer – think of doing that needs the huge data capacity of 5G? The place to figure it out is the 5G Innovation Hub in HTC 25 on High Tech Campus, a project of Finnish cellular giant Ericsson and Anglo/Dutch/American telecom VodafoneZiggo.
Our hosts were Senna Kloosterman, management trainee at Ericsson, Richard Prins, the hub’s technical lead for B2B, and Letícia Batista, community manager at the 5G Hub.
They work to bring business executives, entrepreneurs and startups to the 5G hub “to see what’s possible and how they can use it,” said Senna Kloosterman, “A big part of what we do is telling companies what is possible.”
The 5G Hub is essentially a 700m2 (7,500-square-foot) nerd playground with various work stations, a demo/presentation area and lots and lots of high-end routers, the latest generation antennae and futuristic hardware.
It’s a place executives and even us non-tech types can get our heads around what 5G can do, and all the hardware it takes to make 5G work is daunting. It’s a world of edge mobility computing networks, CUPS architecture, dynamic spectrum sharing, local network slicing, special antennas, arrays for beam forming and crazy-fast download and upload speeds.
Moreover, it was all fun. I got to drive a remote control car via a racecar-style seat and a snazzy control panel. Yes, the little car almost got run over by a truck that I couldn’t see, but hey … no harm, no foul.
By the way, we came away with a whole new vocabulary.
Those terms we were throwing around like we knew what they meant:
5G – 5G is shorthand for the fifth-generation wireless communications technology standard for broadband cellular networks. Currently, 4G is the standard in the Netherlands. But there are already plans to jump ahead to 6G by 2030.
G network slicing is a network architecture that enables multiple, independent networks to operate via the same physical network infrastructure. Each network “slice” is an isolated end-to-end network tailored to a specific application.
Local slicing – Network slicing creates networks within the main provider network dedicated to specific tasks that are no-fail, like ambulance communications in areas such as stadiums where 10,000 people with cellphones can slow the network. Or you need a completely end-to-end secure network for highly sensitive business or national security.
Edge computing – Edge computing basically means placing computing power and data-storage capacity closer to the location where it’s needed to improve response times and save bandwidth
Latency – Latency is the lags in data flow. If you’re using a set of VR goggles, the jerkiness of the images can make users nauseous. 5G mostly eliminates latency.
CUPS architecture – Control and User Plane Separation tech isn’t new, but helps control more precisely how data flows through the network to support a wider array of services with varied performance requirements including IoT. There are many, many moving pieces to CUPS including evolved packet cores, or EPCs. Head. Exploding.