KPN and Vodafone back Netherlands trial of rural 5G services

13 June 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Vodafone and Dutch operator KPN are taking part in a trial of rural 5G communications along with vendors Ericsson and Huawei plus academic and public bodies.

The trial, called 5Groningen, will focus on logistics, healthcare, the environment, energy and agriculture. The first series of tests will be launched before the end of the year at Zernike Campus, Groningen’s large research complex.

Groningen is the only rural area in Europe where 5G tests are being carried out.

“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.”

The testbed is supported by 10 partner organisations, which signed an agreement at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Supporters include KPN and Vodafone plus Huawei and Ericsson, as well as Agentschap Telecom, the Dutch telecommunications agency, and TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research.

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, one of the project’s supporters.

“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.”