A need for speed: Racetrack builds private 5G network with Nokia and Edzcom

KymiRing expects its private 5G network to be completed this year. (KymiRing)

Northern Europe's largest motorsports track will use a private 5G network to connect drivers, test autonomous cars and broadcast live video from multiple vehicles at the same time. Finland's KymiRing will deploy Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud infrastructure and will use spectrum provided by Edzcom, the Finnish private network specialist recently acquired by tower giant Cellnex. Initially the network will use the 2.3 GHz spectrum, eventually evolving to 3.5 GHz and millimeter wave, according to Edzcom Managing Director Mikko Uusitalo.

5G is ideal for a racetrack environment, where drivers have long communicated by radio, and video feeds from a driver's viewpoint are of value to spectators. 

"We do see 5G network as an essential part of the infrastructure, which creates competitive edge for the KymiRing circuit," said KymiRing CEO Markku Pietilä, adding that the new video feeds are expected to increase viewership and advertising.

Pietilä said the 5G private network also has the potential to increase driver safety, because other personnel will now have access to the communications between a driver and his or her support team. "Other circuit users will have new PTT communication technology in their hands," Pietilä said. "This is important for the internal communication of security personnel, pit operations, race control, stewards, rescue personnel, etc. These players will benefit from secured means of communication."

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Pietilä said the security of Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud was one of the primary reasons KymiRing chose to work with Nokia, which of course is headquartered in Finland. All the core network equipment will be onsite at KymiRing, along with Nokia's edge computing platform. The network is expected to cover KymiRing's entire 180 hectares of circuit area.

Video production companies will also benefit from the 5G network infrastructure. “Big events generally require an enormous stake from production companies, who arrive with truckloads of cables and support technology," Pietilä said. "Thanks to our network improvements ... most of the technology is available on site.”

Big racing events also bring tens of thousands of fans to the track, and more of them will be using 5G networks in the future. By investing in a private network, KymiRing is ensuring availability, security and control for its critical communications and video feeds.

KymRing will also use the network to support the testing services it offers to automakers when the track is not hosting a race. According to Pietilä, the private 5G network will enable the transfer almost unlimited amounts of data from test vehicle sensors to manufacturers, with no latency, which will be important to automakers and software developers as they work to create autonomous vehicles.

“We will be able to deliver sensor data via the network directly to any destination in the world, while testing in even demanding conditions," he said. "The possibilities to apply 5G technology in the automotive industry are unlimited."