The applications on show based on enhanced 5G networks range from futuristic factory controls in private networks through to temporary 5G connectivity islands for special operations and rural regions. After all, with the first 5G standards having already made their appearance, manufacturers are now preparing to market 5G-compatible base stations and end devices while network operators are planning to roll-out 5G networks commercially by 2020. "China, South Korea and Japan may well have a head start in providing commercial 5G multimedia services from 2019, but Germany boasts outstanding Industry 4.0 expertise and ought to leverage 5G’s innovation potential for industrial applications," says Prof. Thomas Magedanz, director of the Fraunhofer institute's Software-based Networks business unit.
The Berlin 5G Playground created by Fraunhofer FOKUS highlights this potential for innovation, putting new applications through their paces in an end-to-end test environment with an overarching test infrastructure both indoors and out. Partners in Berlin and throughout Germany will be able to access the fast 5G test network using a 100 Gbit broadband connection. Devices such as antennas, sensors, switches and end systems have also been installed in and around the institute to form an extensive range of network infrastructure hardware. The "Open Baton" software modules for managing infrastructure and network functions and the "Open5GCore" 3GPP-compliant software-based 5G core network - both developed by FOKUS - also feature in the Berlin 5G Playground. Edge computing technologies designed by FOKUS, meanwhile, ensure industrial applications are faster and more secure by enabling decentralized data processing and are helping pave the way toward the first demonstration and application scenarios as a basis for customer-specific applications.
As 5G allows existing wireless technology to be integrated into a core network, 4G, 5G, WiFi and even satellite communication are available in the Berlin 5G Playground. The test network's 'small cells' and 'macro-cell' comprise base stations with mobile radio antennas that predominantly use frequencies of 3.7 to 3.8 GHz. A spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency range can be used, too, meaning the Brandenburg Gate can still be reached from the institute's roof. What's more, the "5G Cube" and "5G Ready Trial Platform" software packages deployed in this cutting-edge playground aren't tied down in Berlin. In fact, they are already being used to form 5G test networks and pilot innovative 5G applications around the world.
Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS (10589 Berlin, Germany)