5G-MOBIX: Cross-Border Connectivity Trials

Ashweeni Beeharee
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With 5G roll-out a hot topic for 2020, the enhanced connectivity is going to mean more than just faster streaming and quicker downloads on your mobile. Ashweeni Beeharee, our Head of Communication Systems Engineering, shares an overview of a project the Catapult is involved in to combat loss of connectivity for autonomous vehicles across country borders.


Image source: https://5g-ppp.eu/

Commercial cellular network deployments tend to be driven by population density which favours cities and large urban areas. Just like its predecessors, 5G network deployment is likely to suffer from issues of coverage and reliability across the extensive road network within Europe – not due to technical limitations of 5G, but commercial drivers.

In addition, terrestrial network architecture and deployment tend to be orchestrated and confined to the geographical boundaries of countries, regardless of whether the same provider covers the network both sides of the border. Therefore, some Cooperative Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM) – e.g. autonomous vehicles – applications and services operating along road networks spanning across Europe are likely to be impacted by these issues, especially along segments of the road network away from inhabited areas and at borders.

Source: Fraunhofer (note: since creation this timeline has shifted due to COVID-19 related delays, with a 3-6 month delay expected for Release 17).

Fortunately, work within ETSI 3GPP, has slowly but surely paved the way for the integration of different types of communication networks within the LTE (long-term evolution) and now 5G eco-system. The figure above shows the Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) timeline of activities pertaining to 5G releases. This means that connectivity architectures that embrace both terrestrial and satellite networks can be conceived – which goes well beyond the well-known concepts of backhaul or ‘bearer of opportunity’ approach. Such a move allows for more innovative approaches to be conceived to address the practical limitations of terrestrial only or satellite only solutions.

About 5G-MOBIX

The 5G-MOBIX project is co-financed by the European Commission within the H2020 framework and the ICT-18 programme. It is led by ERTICO (ITS Europe) and comprises of 55 partners from 10 countries across Europe and Asia. 5G-MOBIX is now the flagship ICT-18 project and is listed within the Phase 3 projects (5G-PPP). Following previous collaboration successes with ERTICO, the Catapult was part of the core team which shaped, submitted and won the proposal.

Source: 5G-MOBIX Project

Within 5G-MOBIX, a number of 5G powered CCAM trials (as illustrated in the example above) will be undertaken at cross-border corridors (Portugal/Spain and Greece/Turkey). They will demonstrate the innovative solutions put together by the multi-skilled team within the consortium that spans across the entire telecoms, ICT and automotive value chain. The outcomes of the trials will feed into recommendations for the stakeholders and Europe when it comes to deployment of 5G to support CCAM. The 5G-MOBIX project comprises of 4 phases as shown below – and currently we are in the P2/P3 phase.

Source: 5G-MOBIX Project

A multi-skilled team from across the Catapult is working on 5G-MOBIX, comprising of individuals with 5G, CCAM, evaluation, marketing, operations, and user centred design expertise. Key technologies are being developed and tested at our 5G Centre in Westcott prior to deployment at the trial sites.

Alongside VEDECOM (France), we have been working closely to shape solutions around a particular CCAM use case and looking at how satellite connectivity can support potential issues identified with 5G connection across borders. This is being developed and tested both in Westcott (UK) and at the French site. Subsequently, it will be integrated and demonstrated at the Portugal/Spain cross border site.

Our work within 5G-MOBIX will create opportunities for the UK connectivity and automotive industry to exploit the technological innovation while carving a strategic position for UK space technology in the 5G landscape for wider exploitation. 

If you are interested in finding out more about 5G-MOBIX, see the project website: https://www.5g-mobix.com/, and for updates on our involvement in the project keep an eye on our website and social media.

5G MOBIX Webinar

Wednesday 20 May, 3pm-4:45pm

The 5G-MOBIX consortium is glad to invite you to its upcoming webinar, co-organised by ICCS, the 20th of May, to present the Spanish-Portuguese Cross Border Corridor.

Click here to find out more.