Ferrovial has deployed the UK’s first operational 5G SA (Standalone) private wireless network at one of its flagship infrastructure projects in London. Deployed in partnership with Nokia and Telent, at the Silvertown Tunnel project, which connects the Greenwich Peninsula and the Silvertown district in East London.
Ferrovial will become its own 5G mobile operator for the Silvertown construction site using the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (Nokia DAC) 5G SA solution and the Ofcom shared spectrum (n77 3.8-4.2Ghz).
This 5G network is already operative and will be soon extended to the other side of the Thames to ensure global connectivity at the worksites. An Open RAN approach will be followed for the extension using equipment from different vendors that will be orchestrated through Neutroon’s platform, a solution that allows to manage all network from one single place, easily transforming connectivity (Wi-Fi, LTE, 5G), into smart connectivity through an integrated marketplace of apps.
This technological milestone comes at a key time, as it will make it possible, for example, to design future construction projects combining the Internet of Things, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and robotics. It will also help create new business models and opportunities, and to coordinate the work of infrastructure companies related to 5G networks.
“This milestone reinforces Ferrovial’s position to lead the digital transformation of the Construction sector. 5G networks provide unique advantages when implementing other technologies. These combined enable great advances in the way we design, build and manage projects, therefore making them safer, more efficient, and more sustainable”, stated Dimitris Bountolos, Information and Innovation Officer (CIIO) at Ferrovial.
Through this initiative, the company is seeking to enhance the Silvertown project’s communications network; as well as providing site wide, ubiquitous and reliable connectivity. The private 5G network will be used as an innovation test bed for selected use cases. The Nokia DAC solution is a high-performance, end-to-end private wireless networking and edge computing platform that combines plug-and-play 5G connectivity with on-premises data management and edge-cloud processing to support real-time applications along with a range of end devices that operate within the n77 spectrum.
In the case of the Silvertown Tunnel project, being delivered on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) by the Riverlinx Construction JV comprising BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Construction and SK Ecoplant, it will improve wireless connectivity within the tunnel, and boost site communications, access management and perimeter control, as well as enhance environmental monitoring of the project and provide real-time visualization of construction progress. At the same time, true to its commitment to workers’ health and safety, Ferrovial will ensure that the integration of the 5G network improves working conditions of the team by providing telematic assistance.
Karl Goose, Managing Director, Ferrovial Construction UK & Ireland: “This initiative is a prime example of how Ferrovial Construction is able to bring additional value to our UK clients, supply chain and teams by working with our global parent company, Ferrovial, on industry-changing innovation projects. The Silvertown Tunnel project is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the benefits that this level of connectivity will bring for UK construction and I look forward to seeing the results”.
At present, the solution has been integrated and connectivity is available in the southern part of the Silvertown site, located on the Greenwich Peninsula. It is expected to reach the northern area, located on the opposite bank of the River Thames, in the next few months.
Gerard Donohue, Chief Technical Officer at Telent commented, “This 5G Private Network project for Ferrovial builds on our well-established history and expertise of designing, building, supporting and managing best-in-class mission critical networks. Private 5G networks offer the reliability of an ethernet connection with the flexibility of a wireless connection. In addition to deployments such as this in construction, the technology is ideal for applications including manufacturing facilities, logistics and distribution centres, transport hubs, container ports and campus environments.”
Phil Siveter, Nokia country CEO for UK&I, said: “By deploying an industrial-grade private 5G wireless network, Ferrovial is building the foundation for its digital transformation journey to Industry 4.0. Our Nokia 5G Standalone DAC solution provides the scalability, reliability and performance that’s needed on large construction sites to improve communication and collaboration amongst the field team and management, enabling them to be more productive and efficient while working in a safer environment.”
Chris Gehlen, CEO & Co-founder at Neutroon, said: “A long-term project of this scale today must have the latest technology to be a futureproof innovation. Having a private 5G connection is a key point not only for a more efficient and safer construction, but also to make the future of the autonomous and connected car a reality. For Neutroon as a company, being able to provide its expertise to Ferrovial in the implementation of private 5G networks is a great step forward, which validates our product and market vision.”
This project comes alongside the challenge recently launched by Ferrovial, together with 5PRING—a 5G application accelerator in the UK—and other companies such as Eurovia UK or Galliford Try, for start-ups and innovative small businesses to shape the future of the construction sector. Ferrovial has also implemented other initiatives involving 5G technology, through projects such as AIVIA, an initiative to develop 5G smart roads with advanced oversight, sensorization and simulation technology, in partnership with Microsoft, 3M, Kapsch TrafficCom, and Capgemini. The project includes road infrastructure technologies to improve the traveller experience in such areas as safety, reliable travel times and on-board access to infotainment.