A minor technological revolution – that is the promise of 5G. The network of the decade after 2020 will affect how our food is produced, how we live our social lives, and how we travel from A to B. TNO is helping to make these applications happen.
About once every ten years the world is introduced to a new generation of internet technology. Just as 3G made it possible to use the internet on a mobile phone, and 4G greatly improved the stability and speed of mobile data traffic, 5G is the next step in our digital future. Its social impact will be huge. Developments will accelerate rapidly, with some futuristic effects on society as we know it.
Agriculture and 5G
Sensors form an important part of 5G. Most of these sensors are almost invisible, but their impact will be seen everywhere. One of the sectors in which they already play a vital role is agriculture. In the past farmers would try to keep expanding tilled land or herd size, and were at the whim of the weather; today, sensors underground, on the land and in the air help them to continue maximizing yields.
“TNO has built the country’s first 5G network in Groningen”
With the motto Meten is weten (to measure is to know), TNO in Groningen has built the country’s first 5G network. In Groningen we use 5G for a variety of commercial applications, including agriculture. The low latency with which 5G sensor information can be delivered makes it possible to automate many processes in this and many other sectors, such as industry.
Virtual and augmented reality
Among other things, the application of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will make it possible to watch a football game from the centre spot, to take part in a meeting from a remote location, and to visit your family – who may live at the other end of the country – from the comfort of your own sofa.
“In preparation for the 2020 European football championships, every country will have made one city 5G-ready”
If you want to use VR/AR to look at your surroundings and to communicate with others, you need photorealistic, ultra-high-definition moving images. The data processing requirements alone represent an enormous technical challenge. At the same time, any delay between turning your head and seeing the corresponding new images must be very short. The 5G standards that TNO helped to define in 3GPP, the pilots we are working on today and the policies we helped to develop have made this possible. The first 5G applications are already being seen; for instance, in preparation for the 2020 European football championships, every country will have made one city 5G-ready.
Making self-driving cars safer
Confidently handing over the steering to a self-driving car – whether you’re on a motorway, manoeuvring through busy city traffic, or searching for a parking place: this future scenario is getting closer all the time, provided vehicles can access the right information on time, networks do not get overloaded, and information exchanges are secure.
“We are working on innovations that will make self-driving cars better and safer”
5G plays a significant role in collecting information, and TNO is working on several innovations that will make self-driving cars better and safer. In Helmond we are running pilots to find out under which conditions a technology works or does not work. Because we included satellite communications in 5G standardization, we are also helping other countries, in which mobile network cover using terrestrial transmitters may not be adequate, to successfully introduce connected automatic driving.
Your life in 5G
Are you curious about the practical applications of 5G? Go to the website Life in 5G and discover how life might look in 5G.