5G Catalonia demonstrates how community engagement creates innovation

Nearly halfway into the mid-point of its standardization, 5G has demonstrated a number of ways in which it can transform enterprise. Yet the industry faces a key challenge in further supporting the deployment of 5G solutions. Perhaps more importantly, it needs to show how this technology can be used for public benefit, in-line with its commitment to the UN SDGs, such as how to create sustainable cities and communities, improve education, and foster industry innovation.

This is the motivation behind 5G Catalonia, a collaborative industry project taking place across the city of Barcelona. The project consists of developing solutions for seven key 5G applications that will improve the lives of the city’s inhabitants. These are: urban mobility, remote education, industry, remote procurement, audio-visual transmission, management of security and emergencies, and neutral multi-operator networks to provide connectivity in areas with high seasonal occupancy such as the beaches of the Barcelona coastline.

5G Catalonia is a beneficiary of the second call for funds to develop 5G pilots by Red.es — an arm of Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation. The initiative is part of the country’s the National 5G Plan and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The project features a variety of participants including Cellnex, MásMóvil, Lenovo, Nae, Nearby Computing, Parlem Telecom, Atos and Aumenta Solutions. In developing each solution, the project group looked closely at community needs across the city. As Jose Antonio Aranda, Innovation Director at Cellnex Telecom, explained “we saw during the pandemic, that most small markets were closing – so what about introducing VR glasses that allow people to buy from home? The technology allows us to use it in education, trade and industry and other sections in Barcelona and its surroundings.”

At MWC Barcelona 23, the project group exhibited another of their solutions – bidirectional holography. Here, the idea was to use lifelike, 3D renders to make remote learning more immersive and natural. Thanks to the speed and low-latency of 5G networks, it’s now possible to support the two-way transmission of large volumes of data in real-time. This application has huge potential for use in other sectors that can make use of immersive communication services, such as entertainment and customer support.

By engaging with local communities and making use of the diverse resources and expertise within the project group, 5G Catalonia was able to create genuinely innovative solutions. As well as addressing needs of the community in the short term, it is hoped that this project will provide a template for both community engagement and scaling technology for similar situations elsewhere.

 5G Catalonia has been recognised as a leading example of how companies can work together to address challenges faced in communities. To this end, it won a GSMA Foundry Excellence Award at MWC. Richard Cockle, Head of the GSMA Foundry stated “I am very pleased that the 5G project in Catalonia has been recognised with the GSMA Foundry Excellence Award. This consortium has developed seven remarkable use cases that show the benefits of 5G technology in real life and how it can be used in everyday life. With this high-impact initiative they have shown outstanding innovation and achievement.”

To find out more about 5G Catalonia, please visit: https://pilot5gcat.com/

To find out more about how the GSMA Foundry can help your organisation find industry partners and communicate innovation please visit: https://www.gsma.com/foundry/