The world’s first 5G ocean-based marine testbed will benefit from a 5G mobile private network built by Vodafone using Nokia equipment.

Plymouth Sound

Plymouth Sound with Drake's Island in foreground (looking back towards Plymouth). Photo: Lewis Huddy, Heads Up Definition

Plymouth Sound’s testbed is part of the Marine Business Technology Centre’s (MBTC) testing and proving ground Smart Sound Plymouth. The network, known as Smart Sound Connect, will enable ultrafast download speeds and low-latency 5G connectivity to support the development of new marine technology.

Rob Watson, director of MBTC, said: “With Smart Sound Connect, the MBTC is able to provide a complete innovation service that allows businesses to utilise one of the most high-tech and comprehensive test and proving environments in the world.

“Not only will our clients be able to benefit from the expertise, research capabilities and advanced equipment of our partners, they will also be able to work closely with Vodafone and Nokia to develop 5G solutions specifically for the marine sector.”

Nokia Digital Automation Cloud

Vodafone will provide 4G and 5G connectivity using four mobile sites at the inlet, and an additional site offshore. The network will utilise Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC), a digitalisation platform capable of providing high-bandwidth, hyper-fast private networking and edge computing capabilities. A compact, plug-and-play system that comprises network equipment and a cloud-based operation monitoring system, Nokia DAC enables users to securely collect, process and host all generated proprietary data on site.

Eligible businesses will have free access to the testbed to test 5G use cases including advanced applied autonomy, clean propulsion, smart ports, smart shipping, and environmental monitoring using the Internet of Things (IoT).

The full testbed will be available from early 2021. It will also form the basis of a proposed virtualised testing platform.

By Rebecca Jeffrey