Emerging Technologies

Umlaut builds 5G open RAN campus network using C-band spectrum

umlaut is installing its first 5G campus network at its headquarters location in Aachen, Germany. This 5G standalone network uses 100 MHz of C-Band spectrum and leverages virtualized architecture to deliver flexibility and scalability. As announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the project is being done in collaboration with Airspan, a US-based provider of ground-breaking, disruptive software and hardware for 5G networks and a pioneer in end-to-end Open RAN solutions, Druid Software, a global leader in 4G/5G private cellular technology.

The 5G campus network is to be a foundation for engineering studies and collaborative testing of a variety of pioneering applications in areas including logistics, manufacturing, health & life, utilities and many other industries arising from umlaut’s and its customers’ fields of activity. The advantage: teaming with umlaut, customers will have a well-defined, flexible set-up for realizing their application scenarios in conjunction with umlaut’s end-to-end domain knowledge – and without the hassle or requirement to apply for a license and building their own network. For companies that do have the assets to build their own private network, they can still benefit from umlaut’s services to help design, deploy, optimize and operate their network. They can train and familiarize themselves in private network management techniques and processes.

Hakan Ekmen, CEO Telecommunication at umlaut, says: “We are proud that when it comes to 5G we are once again pioneers. With our 5G campus network, we can test a wide variety of industrial applications and scenarios which provide real value for our customers. We will provide them with tangible, reliable results to help them develop their 5G strategies and proof of concepts, in the perfect test environment, saving the cost of building and operating their own 5G test beds. umlaut will also support our customers in creating their own tailor-made environment from planning license application for network rollout, launch and optimization and managed operation of our clients’ private networks.”

Liam Kenny, CEO of Druid Software, commented on the announcement: “We are delighted to support umlaut as they pioneer 5G standalone capability for enterprise innovation in the German market. umlaut is ideally positioned with the enterprise slicing capabilities of the Druid RaemisTM 5G NGC and Airspan’s ORAN solution to address the business-critical needs of Industry.”

“As a leader in 5G and Open RAN solutions, Airspan is well-positioned to take advantage of the expanded adoption of Open RAN technology and open architecture, and is working closely with other industry leaders, including umlaut, to enhance the ecosystem,“ said Airspan President and CEO Eric Stonestrom. “This private network solution leveraging our 5G and Open RAN expertise, software and hardware will help many enterprises develop and validate 5G use cases that will drive innovation.“

Airspan will provide its end-to-end Open RAN suite of indoor and outdoor solutions, including software and hardware, as part of umlaut’s disruptive network to validate multiple 5G use cases and applications related to private networks. Airspan was recognized last month with an award for excellence and innovation for the fourth consecutive year by the Small Cell Forum, for its groundbreaking work partnering with Rakuten Mobile and Qualcomm to power Rakuten’s mobile network, which was recognized as the world’s first fully-virtualized, software-driven mobile network leveraging millimeter wave (mmWave) Open RAN small cell architecture.

umlaut has been awarded with a private 5G spectrum license with a bandwidth of 100 MHz in the so-called C-Band block. This largest possible spectrum assignment is meeting or even exceeding the requirements of all the test scenarios described and clearly paves the way into a digital era. umlaut recently published a white paper on C-Band Spectrum, available here.

Options and industrial 5G applications offered by the umlaut campus network:

Device testing: umlaut is a certification body for smartphones from various manufacturers and integrates IoT modules in mobile networks. The company is constantly expanding this area to other device classes as industrial connectivity modules, routers, hotspots, AR/VR glasses and many more to test them under real application scenarios.

Network design: Setting up the right network configuration is key to realize the performance and availability requirements for industrial 5G applications. The flexibility of the network allows to set up a proof-of-concept over which to run tests with different configurations to determine optimal operating parameters – e.g., higher power versus higher carrier frequency bandwidth. Because of the constant and sometimes arbitrary reconfigurations, such tests are only possible in a dedicated network which umlaut will provide on its campus.

Network Management and Training: umlaut’s telecommunication experts can help companies by using our network as a training facility to train our clients to manage their own private networks.

Industry 4.0 connectivity: The 5G campus network will be used for modelling Industry 4.0 scenarios from the automotive industry, aerospace, rail, mechanical engineering and/or manufacturing in partially simulated, partially real test setups.

Security: From smartphones and IoT devices up to virtualized network infrastructure and services, there are many attack vectors for private networks. umlaut provides end-to-end security testing and consulting to enable secure 5G applications. The campus network brings flexibility and real-life scenarios for devices, network equipment and industrial applications.

Multi-vendor interoperability: With Open RAN and virtualized core solutions the network setup possibilities grow exponentially. To realize the use cases behind 5G, test facilities run by trained engineers with the deep technical knowledge are required to integrate different vendors with focus on compliance and interoperability. The umlaut 5G campus network provides the right environment to bring it to success.

Multi-network accessibility: umlaut develops solutions for critical emergency service applications, including the Telenotarzt solution for rescue and ambulance vehicles. The network for corresponding tests requires highly dynamic configurations and simulations of different network scenarios. umlaut will take these services to the next level with 5G – including low latency and high availability.

Broadcasting over 5G: Multimedia and broadcasting test operations over 5G are a candidate for DVB-T succession – in cooperation with public broadcasters as well as private broadcasters. Broadcasting applications require a special channel coding (feMBMS) that is not compatible with other applications, therefore needing an exclusive chunk of spectrum such as umlaut’s campus network for testing.

Real-time testing of automotive mobility concepts: umlaut’s own outdoor site enables the realistic design of test scenarios for the autonomous industry and network-supported mobility concepts. This includes the test of future assistance systems (ADAS – advanced driver-assistance systems). The SMURV (smart urban vehicle) test environment developed by umlaut serves as a platform for researching and testing the systems.

umlaut has been awarded with a private 5G spectrum license with a bandwidth of 100 MHz in the so-called C-Band block. This largest possible spectrum assignment is meeting or even exceeding the requirements of all the test scenarios described and clearly paves the way into a digital era. umlaut recently published a white paper on C-Band spectrum, available here.

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