- Focus Topics: 5G: Networking for Business, Wine, and Science
- Speakers appeal for nation-wide network coverage for mobile communications
5G is considered to be a key technology for digital communication. Industry, car manufacturers, cities, and rural areas rely on fast and stable data transmission. At the annual Innovation Day at SmartFactoryKL, various presentations were made by highly respected representatives from a variety of fields. “We intentionally selected experts who could give different perspectives of the 5G working world,” said Prof. Martin Ruskowski, Chairman of the Executive Board at SmartFactoryKL. “This event is the best way for us to do justice to the broad issues while highlighting the importance of 5G.”
“The Importance of 5G in Production” is the title of his presentation. The SmartFactory-KL Technology Initiative has been working for years with wireless communication. “Our first area of application was a self-directed robot, which performed product quality checks using data from a camera while transporting the product. 5G is the only technology to date that can transport very large quantities of data without interruption in an industrial environment,” he explained.
Dr. Hermann Buitkamp from VDMA agreed with this statement. He spoke about “The importance of local, cellular networks in agriculture.” “The synchronization of farm equipment, data exchange about livestock, crops, and fields, and the communication between farm and machine is critical today and only possible over a wireless network,” said Buitkamp. “Unfortunately, such communication is not possible in many regions of Germany because the mobile networks are unreliable or not functioning at all.” This has consequences. More and more farms are closing down because they have no alternative sources of income such as agrotourism, a farm store, or a home office option: “Not many families will choose to spend their holidays on a farm without an internet connection.”
Prof. Dominik Durner also knows about this problem. He is an oenologist and teaches at the Neustadt Wine Campus. “In viticulture circles, digitalization is a key topic of discussion, but wine growers are not yet able to benefit from it,” he said. “We are researching sustainable and environmentally friendly crop protection methods. Networked systems help us in this effort as we identify where certain methods are necessary.” In his presentation “The use of 5G in viticulture,” he describes the current and future challenges for wine growers. “We work in rural areas, sometimes with difficult access and usually in hilly terrain. Reliable data transmission with appropriate latency and sufficient frequency has been lacking until now.” This has put German wine growers at a disadvantage in international competition. “It is difficult to work without reliable cellular networks.”
Dr. Martin Verlage, managing director of KL.digital, explained the challenges of implementing 5G in the city in his presentation “5G, Smart City, Digital City – Pilot Region Kaiserslautern”. “In addition to the technical issues, there are new requirements for the approval process. New 5G antennas need to be erected at previously unfamiliar locations. If a network provider wants to install antennas on traffic signals or street lights, it has to ask the respective owner. Each municipality can regulate ownership and support of the structures individually. Similarly, the responsibility for eventual damage to an antenna must be defined.” What initially sounds banal may actually have major practical consequences. “Political discussion over a clear positioning regarding the use of public infrastructure is still ongoing. As the expansion of 5G is imminent, local communities urgently require clear guidance. However, even among the population, 5G is the subject of intense discussion, often with conflicting interests. For example, there are some who oppose the expansion because they fear signal interference, while others want a fast Internet and demand the immediate, comprehensive expansion of the new cellular network.”
“We have it easier within this industry,” said Ruskowski during the closing discussion. “For us, the most important thing is functionality, optics comes second.” All speakers were in agreement that nation-wide mobile communications are essential for Germany’s future.
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