​Autonomous buses, cars, drones: Norway's Telenor readies its big 5G pilot

When Telenor's 5G pilot begins near Oslo later this year, it will be putting a string of applications to real-life testing.
Written by Stig Øyvann, Contributor

Late last year telecoms provider Telenor and the municipality of Kongsberg signed a contract for 5G pilot testing in the town. The choice of location is not random.

Although Kongsberg is an hour's drive from Oslo and small even by Norwegian standards, with just over 27,000 inhabitants, it is home to many of Norway's most innovative high-technology companies.

"The 5G technology can fundamentally change many critical operations for society, like traffic management, health services and important communication services as emergency communications. Therefore, we're very happy to announce this collaboration with the exciting innovation environment here on Kongsberg," said Ove Fredheim from Telenor.

Telenor tells ZDNet that it is in the process of planning deployment of 5G base stations in and around the industrial park where the Kongsberg tech companies are concentrated.

The company will be building 5G coverage between the industrial park and the local railway station, to support a test of an autonomous bus service on the 3km (1.9-mile) stretch of road between the locations.

In this pilot project, Telenor is combining 4G and 5G communications. For Internet of Things applications, 4G may be as applicable as 5G, in terms of separation of traffic into service classes. This technique is referred to as 'network slicing', where logical segments of the network can have different service characteristics, such as bandwidth priority, without affecting one other.

In October 2018, Telenor will enable the IoT technologies NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) and LTE-M (LTE for Machines) on all their 4G base stations in Norway.

Network slicing is also part of the 5G specification where, for instance, emergency communication can be allocated to a separate slice. This approach ensures such traffic gets through the network even if the ordinary telephony part is congested due to extreme loads after a catastrophe of some sort.

5G also offers shorter response times and higher capacity. Telenor did a 5G demo earlier in 2017 and achieved more than 70Gbps throughput in that test. That capacity is approximately 700 times greater than what 4G can offer. Both speed and low latency will be tested in the Kongsberg pilot test, Telenor tells ZDNet.

Telenor and pilot partners Kongsberg municipality, Kongsberg Innovation, and Applied Autonomy, are discussing which specific applications are to be tested in the project. There are several possible and probable applications that Telenor is willing to mention at this stage:

  • Autonomous buses, cars and drones that need to be operated in real time.
  • Applications within e-health that are in particular need of real-time high bandwidth. An example use case could be remote medical diagnostics.
  • Networked use of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). This application needs high bitrate and low response time to work well enough.

Separate emergency communications with new applications, like video calls. This use case calls for sliced networking to give the communication highest priority in the network, as well as high capacity.

The project is in the planning stage, with Telenor and the current pilot test partners working on which applications and tests to implement during the pilot. More organizations will be welcome to enter later in the project, according to Telenor.

The current schedule is:

  • 1H 2018: Planning of agreed pilot projects
  • 2H 2018 - 2019: Implement pilot projects
  • 2H 2019: Summarize what is learned from the projects

During Telenor's 5G technology demo in March 2017, it said it plans to open its 5G mobile network in Norway "around 2020".


Telenor used the 5G demo to showcase possible applications for this technology, such as autonomous shuttle buses and industrial drones. From left: Telenor CEO and president Sigve Brekke, minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen, and Telenor Norway CEO Berit Svendsen.

Image: Telenor

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