News | 15 Dec 2020

How 5G will help businesses rule the waves in Plymouth

Marine mobile private network from Vodafone will be a fertile testing ground for businesses and academic researchers.

Plymouth Sound, a bustling bay forming part of the UK’s historic south-western seaboard, will soon be equipped with a 5G mobile private network (MPN).

The MPN, known as Smart Sound Connect and built by Vodafone UK using Nokia equipment, will be available for businesses and academics to use in their testing and research on the waters of Plymouth Sound.

The 5G MPN’s fast speeds and low latency can enable use cases such as driverless boats, connected buoys, clean propulsion, smart ports and shipping, as well as environmental monitoring. Such projects could use the 5G MPN to stay aware of other vessels in the bay in real time, while feeding back live weather and tidal data, for example.

Smart Sound Connect is scheduled to go live in March 2021, covering two zones near the southern end of Plymouth Sound. An extension to the MPN’s range so that it reaches further beyond the shoreline is under consideration.

A ‘digital twin’ of Plymouth Sound and the 5G MPN is also in the works. Businesses and academics will be able to use this advanced simulation, which can include live data from the actual bay and its network, to test and validate ideas virtually before deploying physical prototypes and Internet of Things (IoT) instruments beyond the shore’s edge.

Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone UK, said: “Smart Sound Connect in Plymouth is a brilliant initiative that will show just how powerful 5G can be for businesses looking to innovate.

“5G can accelerate developments in marine technologies, and this is another area where the UK can be a global leader with the right digital tools and skill-sets.”

Smart Sound Connect builds upon Vodafone UK’s experience in developing 5G MPNs for businesses and their needs, from Centrica’s gas plant in Yorkshire to Ford’s car factory in Essex.

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