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Use cases show that 5G drives the economy and sustainability at the same time


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The 5G use cases carried out in recent months in Spain show that the use of 5G technology is not only profitable but also allows economic development and, at the same time, environmental sustainability. During the presentation of a DigitalES report on the importance of 5G, various use cases recently carried out in various production processes and in society in general were exposed, highlighting its viability, profitability and energy efficiency.


Spain, the report explains, is the European Union country with the highest volume of 5G pilot projects underway, about 120 in total so far. From the outset, all 5G pilot projects are environmentally sustainable, due to more efficient use of the spectrum, optimization of the antenna, putting transmitters on hold when not in use, or substituting less efficient infrastructure equipment. , among other characteristics inherent to this technology. Its impact, logically, is more positive when sustainability is considered as one more business objective and is introduced in all phases of the project: design, development and monitoring, is emphasized in the report.


In the last year, the Government has presented various plans, including the Plan for the connectivity of people, companies and territories, with a budget of 583 million euros, and the Strategy to promote 5G technology, with a budget of 300 million euros, which have a time horizon until 2025, which are included in the Spain Digital 2025 Agenda. Calls have been made to extend fast broadband to the entire Spanish territory and promote the audiovisual sector, as well as a sheet of route to encourage investment in 5G networks and services. There are multiple proposals, as indicated in the following graphic, exposed when presenting the DigitalES report.

Several use cases that are underway in Spain, in multiple environments and with varied applications, have been selected in the report, of which a brief description of their objectives and sustainability impact is made. They show that it is not only possible to do it with 5G technology but that they are also profitable and there is a saving of various resources, be they human, material or energy.

5G use cases show that processes are improved, remote operation is seamless, and energy, labor and materials are saved

In rural environments, the 5G-Lean project is presented, for sustainable connectivity with zero emissions, and also robots for fruit harvesting or precision agriculture thanks to the use of IoT sensors. In the field of mobility, the Ditra project is being carried out to measure the pollution of vehicles in real time, as well as a system to assist driving in a tunnel in Galicia or an autonomous 5G bus, which would link various venues headquarters trade fairs in Barcelona.


Other projects deal with reducing water leaks in supply systems, autonomous television production in 4K quality or emergency management with the use of drones. In the most industrial environments, the cases of a Navantia shipyard that optimizes the repair and construction of ships thanks to 5G, the use of augmented reality in a Cepsa refinery in Huelva or the construction of flight simulators with remote support are explained.

More accurate and profitable agriculture

It is well known that Spain is one of the most agricultural countries in the European Union, although services and tourism are more important. The largest agricultural areas are usually rural, with a lower population density and those with, as a result, worse mobile phone coverage. The 5G-Lean project, carried out by the companies Cellnex, Nokia and Quobis, precisely pursues the deployment of connectivity in rural areas that do not have it, thanks to the installation of mobile broadband telecommunications infrastructures, neutral and shared, enabling key applications such as real-time data transmission or local processing.


To this end, a new type of telecommunications site has been developed with elements that include 5G connectivity, high-capacity radio links to avoid the installation of fiber optics and a MEC server to host services and useful applications in the selected rural area. At the same time, this site has been designed to produce zero carbon emissions, basing its operation entirely on renewable energy, combining solar and wind energy, which guarantees a constant energy supply.

The project consisted of providing connectivity to the La Loba winery, located in Matanza de Soria and which makes wine with the Ribera de Duero designation of origin. The cost of deployment is similar to that of traditional facilities and is carried out with different utilities, such as a unified communications service or a system for sensing humidity, temperature and other environmental parameters that facilitates the sustainable management of crops, said Aitor Rubio, Cellnex product strategy director, and Iago Soto, Quobis commercial director.

Until now, technology and environment had not been united, but 5G allows it, because this technology is a fundamental enabler of energy efficiency

5G technology is considered key to achieving higher precision agriculture and optimizing the performance, quality and environmental sustainability of guaranteed farms. Several use cases have been made to achieve this. In Galicia, through the correlation of agronomic and environmental parameters provided by IoT sensors, 5G networks and satellite maps. And in the Valencian Community, with the information provided by the sensors located in drones, which have the ability to perform multispectral analysis.

In Galicia, the companies Orange, Ericsson, Qampo and Agroamb have participated, while in Valencia the operator Orange and Qampo have also participated, together with Huawei, Catec and Rajalu Agricultural Operations. In the pilot phase, a reduction of 20 to 30% of the consumption of irrigation water has been achieved, lower emissions by reducing the use of fertilizers, disease prevention and fewer displacements and a monitoring of the state of the crop in real time, regardless of the climate.


Another agricultural project has been carried out by Vodafone, Cellnex and the society Agraria de Transformación Trops, located in Vélez-Málaga, with the use of robots to harvest fruit. Thanks to the automation of the harvests in the most expensive phases of work, such as the harvesting of fruit, the work of the farmers is more profitable.


Farmers now have vibrating machines, which move the trunk and make the fruit fall, and automatic arms, which collect the fruit directly from the tree piece by piece, but with the disadvantage of their low performance and the difficult coordination with the tractor for the advance of the arms. In this use case, intelligence has been provided to the fruit harvesting machine so that it knows, in real time, whether or not it should harvest the fruit depending on whether the pieces have the optimum size and ripening point. Through cameras, the machine takes images of the color and diameter of the fruit.


All of this is possible thanks to 5G technology, which allows the query, analysis and transmission of data, execution of algorithms or comparison of patterns while the machine performs the collection. The speed, accessibility and flexibility that 5G facilitates seeks that the farmer react as soon as possible to any unexpected problem that may lead to losses in the harvest and, therefore, waste. In addition to optimizing fruit harvesting, 5G favors efficient use of water and pesticides.


Another use case has sought to reduce water leaks in water distribution systems. Currently, there are many sensors in the distribution networks of water, electricity and different equipment that capture many types of information but never in real time but periodically and even manually, due to the unmanageable volume of data. The use case has allowed Aqualia, a company specialized in the management of the integral water cycle, together with the operator Vodafone, to have a system of collection and processing in real time thanks to the 5G connectivity of the different sensors. Thus, it has been possible to detect leaks, distribution problems or even, in the future, their early detection with algorithms and automated learning systems.


5G technology provides a common access to the heterogeneous network of sensors and allows its connection with the necessary bandwidth at all times. From the outset, the same current analysis techniques are still being applied, but enriched with the largest volume of information, and detection and reaction times in the event of anomalies are reduced. In the future, it will be possible to work with more complex mathematical analysis and predictive and preventive maintenance.

Improvements in industrial systems

Vodafone, Capgemini, Huawei and Cepsa have sensorised pipes and stop valves with IoT devices at the Cepsa refinery in La Rábida. An augmented reality system has been created at the refinery (AR) that provides remote support through video streaming and provides real-time information on the facilities, by locating the elements.


The system displays real-time data on pipeline functions, temperature or pressure, facilitating decision-making and anticipating possible breakdowns. The information is managed on an IoT platform based on the AWS cloud and accessible from the web thanks to GreenGrass. Different augmented reality devices, such as glasses, mobiles or tablets, allow operators to provide remote assistance through high definition video and audio, making it easier for them to assess the status of the installation.


At the Navantia shipyard in Ferrol, Telefónica, Cinfo and Idronia have carried out three use cases for the repair and construction of ships, with dedicated 5G infrastructure. The advantages of 5G with lower latency and high capacity for real-time data processing, together with high-quality visualizations and 3D modeling, are taken advantage of to save time, resources and fewer trips of specialists in the repair and construction of ships.


In one use case, 5G enables remote technical assistance using augmented reality and 3D models. In the second, it visualizes the virtual parts in a real environment that allows verifying how the works that have been designed will look before proceeding to their manufacture and planning their assembly. In the third case, 5G supports the process of building ships in a modular way with blocks that are assembled.

Connected and more sustainable mobility

The DigitalES report has selected three other use cases, related to sustainable mobility. One of them will measure the polluting emissions of vehicles in real time, thanks to the Alcobendas City Council pilot project, carried out by the MásMóvil group and the Opus laboratory. The project plans to place a sensor at exits 16 and 17 of the A1 from which a halo of light will be emitted capable of passing through the emissions of each vehicle and detecting carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen monoxide and dioxide, hydrocarbons. not burned and various harmful particles.

It will be possible to measure, in real time, the pollutant emissions of each vehicle and inform, and where appropriate penalize if they are outside the allowed limits, to drivers, through a system that would involve the General Directorate of Traffic and the different stations of technical inspection of vehicles (ITV).


Another connected mobility project has been carried out in the Cereixal tunnel, in Lugo, which offers assistance to the driving of passing vehicles, both at the entrance and during their journey through the tunnel. Telefónica, together with Nokia, Stellantis, Ineco, Sice and the Galician Automotive Technology Center have participated in the project. The tunnel has 5G coverage and multiple sensors have been installed inside it, such as thermal cameras, DAI and OCR type cameras and opacimeters that, together with the software hosted on the Edge, inform vehicles of the traffic status in real time.

Another of the connected mobility projects selected in the report is the autonomous bus with 5G connection carried out by Mobile World Capital Barcelona and Fira Barcelona, ​​which will facilitate the transport of passengers between different fairgrounds with buses that will operate autonomously, without a driver , between the Montjuïc and L’Hospitalet precincts, both located a kilometer and a half apart.

TV recording and remote flight simulators

Another of the projects highlighted, among the multiple use cases carried out and in process in Spain, are that of remote television production of 4K images, carried out by Telefónica, Intel and Aviwest, to offer a broadcasting system and realization of TV in direct in 4K formats more efficiently, flexibly and at a lower cost.


HEVC encoding devices are used that connect to the camera and are capable of encoding the video in real time and sending it, through its 5G module, without the need for satellite links. The encoded video signal travels to the production software, installed in Telefónica’s Edge, which in turn processes the video from the different cameras and generates an output signal suitable for television studios. In this way, bulky and expensive mobile production units can be dispensed with.


The report also mentions the case of flight simulators from Simloc, a company dedicated to the manufacture of flight simulators, in which a private Fujitsu 5G network has been installed on which different use cases operate, such as the provision of support. remote control of users around the world or the use of a 3D model based on software that reduces costs and labor thanks to its more efficient design and without the need to make physical changes.


These use cases in the agricultural sector, connected mobility or industrial facilities have a very beneficial transversal effect, because the increase in network traffic is offset by their greater efficiency, said Federico Ruíz, head of the 5G National Observatory, in the presentation of the report. “5G is a fundamental enabler of energy efficiency,” added Huawei’s Emilio Sacristán. 5G can consume up to 90% less energy per unit of traffic compared to 4G. To this must be added the improvement of processes with the use of artificial intelligence systems and the process in the cloud or at the Edge. Until now, added Regis Badía, head of sustainability at Nae, technology and the environment had not joined, but 5G allows it.