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5Groningen: new 5G test network launched in the Netherlands

Jun 09, 2016

[Groningen, the Netherlands, 9 June 2016] A 5G testbed in the Dutch province of North Groningen was officially launched today, when an international agreement was signed between the ten partner organisations who initiated the project.

The ground-breaking initiative signed today at the Ministry of Economic Affairs brings together partners from the fields of telecommunications, innovation, science and sustainable economic development to jointly research the practical applications of 5G, the next generation of mobile technology. The 5Groningen project is an initiative of Economic Board Groningen, KPN, the Dutch Telecommunications Agency (Agentschap Telecom), Vodafone, Huawei, Ericsson, TNO, the University of Groningen, SURF and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences.

Innovation research will focus on the sectors of logistics, healthcare, the environment, energy and agriculture. Self-driving cars and the monitoring of crop diseases are two flagship examples of specific applications to be targeted.

Groningen is the only rural area in Europe where 5G tests are being carried out, making the 5Groningen project a unique initiative at an EU level. The first series of tests will be launched before the end of the year at Zernike Campus, Groningen’s large research complex.

“Today, the Netherlands enjoy fast mobile connectivity. We need to ensure that our country continues to benefit from the latest developments of mobile technologies such as 5G,” said Henk Kamp, the Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs. “This will bring added value for citizens, as well as businesses – not only from an economic perspective, but also by enabling key innovations in fields such as healthcare and agriculture.”

Leading 5G innovation

The unique new testing environment will serve as another stepping stone towards 5G deployment by 2020, meaning that citizens and the economy as a whole, in North Groningen as elsewhere, will be able to reap the benefits of this new technology.

The agricultural sector is set to be among the leaders of 5G innovation. “Farmers are at the forefront of technological innovation; not only with regard to the efficiency of their business operations, but also, importantly, with a view to ensuring sustainability and environmental protection,’ explained Peter Rake, 5G programme manager at Economic Board Groningen. “Other sectors in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe are paying close attention to agricultural innovation in the fields of sensors, drones and other technologies that will benefit from 5G development.”

Healthcare is another key sector where 5G will have a strong impact. Enabling elderly people to live independently for longer, thanks to advanced monitoring technologies, is just one example of how 5G will be making a difference in this field.

Knowledge hub

North Groningen was selected as the location for the test network to benefit from the vast space available here, while boosting the local economy of this earthquake area, and also because there are a number of major knowledge institutions located here. These include the University of Groningen, the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, as well as other organisations working in the field of sustainable energy, such as TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), applied sciences hotspot EnTranCe and the Energy Academy Europe.

In addition, 5G applications fostering regional development and catering to a growing demand for high-speed internet connectivity represent a key challenge for researchers and other innovators.