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Digitales Hologramm des 5G-Netzwerks auf einem Stadthintergrund

5G campus networks as an opportunity for SMEs

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The Federal Government is promoting the development of innovative applications for 5G technologies at national and international level. These include 5G campus networks. Two funding measures, which DLR Projektträger (DLR-PT) is implementing for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), have now been launched.

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22nd February 2022 — Today's working world consists largely of flexible processes based on digital and automated workflows within and between companies. Wireless networking of production sites, devices or facilities is indispensable in this context. However, there is a risk of sensitive data being leaked to the outside and to unauthorised third parties. High-performance 5G campus networks – locally limited radio networks – provide a remedy here. They open up the advantages of 5G technology to users: the wireless integration of facilities, devices and processes as well as fast data transmission with low latency times and high bandwidths. At the same time, as closed radio networks, they offer a high level of security in data transfer. Companies and organisations thus retain sovereignty over their data and processes.

Innovative solutions for private 5G campus networks

At the beginning of 2022, two technology programmes on 5G campus networks were launched at national and international level. The DLR-PT Digital Technologies Department, which has been working for the BMWK as a service provider in the field of "digital technology development" for many years, has also supported the Ministry in terms of content and strategy in the conception of the current funding measures and will continue to oversee them.

In the nationwide programme "Campus networks based on 5G communication technologies including OpenRAN approaches (5G campus networks)", innovative solutions for private 5G networks are to be developed and tested at national level. Smaller network suppliers and start-ups have the opportunity to tap into the new market segment of campus networks.

As the first project of the funding programme, the lead project "CampusOS" has now been launched with 22 partners from industry and research. Within the framework of the joint project, a modular ecosystem and a technology construction kit including blueprints for 5G campus networks based on open radio technologies and interoperable network components are to be developed. The results will later be evaluated in an industrial environment using selected scenarios.

Selected binational innovation projects

Already during their technology dialogue in October 2020, France and Germany agreed to step up cooperation in the field of 5G communication technologies in order to strengthen the digital sovereignty of both countries. The following year, the BMWK and the French Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances et de la Relance (MEFR) launched the first call for funding for joint innovation projects in the "5G Campus Networks" programme. This was intended to lower market entry barriers in Europe and open up the 5G communications market to new providers of industry-specific solutions for private 5G networks from France and Germany. In Germany, the Franco-German funding measure complements the above-mentioned national activities in the area of BMWK 5G campus networks.

Cooperation with France

In a virtual kick-off meeting organised by DLR-PT in January 2022, four selected projects on innovative application scenarios of 5G in Industry 4.0, in industrial estates and in smart operating theatres were presented. The main project, "5G OPERA", is dedicated to the systematic development of solutions for Open RAN systems and the establishment of a 5G testbed to investigate use cases. For example, the "5G OR" project aims to enable the development of a wirelessly networked operating theatre in a private 5G network environment. This could support personalised and safe minimally invasive surgery and improve quality of care. Prototype implementations of the technology are being tested at hospitals in Berlin, Reutlingen and Strasbourg.

The Franco-German innovation projects are intended to exploit synergies with national funding activities in both countries and contribute to the cross-border transfer of development results and flexibly deployable 5G components.

Promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises

In both 5G programmes, the BMWK focuses on the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition to large enterprises (GU), small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) as well as educational institutions, start-ups with innovative approaches are particularly promoted in the various technology and application fields for 5G campus networks. The Ministry primarily wants to support young companies in quickly developing their solutions to market maturity so that they can achieve a high level of competitive strength in the emerging value creation networks.

As part of the programme support, DLR-PT supports transfer between the national and international 5G programmes through various initiatives, including workshops, summits and conferences. In this way, a 5G ecosystem can emerge from the actors of both countries that does justice to sustainable economic promotion and strengthens the development of sovereign infrastructures for 5G campus networks in Europe.

Main and Other Contacts

Contact at DLR Projektträger

national: Gerd Hembach  |  international: Rocco Cariglino