Huawei, Ericsson, KPN, and Vodafone were among 10 partners that launched a 5G test bed in the Dutch province of North Groningen with a focus on developing practical applications for the next-generation technology.
Research in what Huawei dubbed a "ground breaking initiative" will focus on logistics, healthcare, the environment, energy, and agriculture, the Chinese vendor announced in a statement. Flagship examples of the applications being investigated include self-driving cars and monitoring crop diseases, the company explained.
The telecoms industry companies are joined on the 5Groningen project by the Economic Board Groningen, Agentschap Telecom (the Dutch Telecommunications Agency), TNO, the University of Groningen, SURF, and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences.
Huawei explained that the project is ground breaking because Groningen is the only rural area of Europe where 5G trials are being conducted. The first series of tests are due to begin by the year-end at the Zernike Campus, a large research facility in the region.
Henk Kamp, the Dutch minister for Economic Affairs, said next-generation technologies such as 5G "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."
Huawei said the testing environment being established under the 5Groningen project is a key stepping stone towards deploying 5G by 2020. The Dutch province was chosen due to the large amount of space available and a proliferation of research institutions located in the area, the company explained.
Peter Rake, 5G programme manager at Economic Board Groningen, said the scheme will be closely watched by the agriculture industry and other sectors "in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe".
The programme manager noted that 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," and said that 5G has the potential to deliver innovations including "sensors, drones and other technologies" to the agricultural sector.
- see this Huawei announcement
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