On January 9th, 2018, an agreement was announced promoting the 5GBarcelona initiative – a project with its sights set on converting Barcelona, and Catalonia as a whole, into a digital innovation hub within the 5G field. The agreement brings together the Regional Government of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall, the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation, the i2CAT Foundation, the CTTC (Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya), Atos and the UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) to spread awareness of an exciting new initiative to make Catalonia a European 5G hub.
As it stands, Catalonia-based organisations and centres of research are already taking part in 22 of the 37 projects that make up the European Commission’s 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership project (5G PPP). Part of the Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme launched in 2014, the 5G PPP programme seeks to “deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures of the coming decade”. Thanks to the 5GCity project, Barcelona already provides the setting for a pioneering 5G development – organisations such as Barcelona City Hall, i2CAT and CellNex are already participating in a project to pilot a neutral 5G rollout in the city’s centre.
Therefore, Catalonia is already a major player in the international 5G ecosystem. However, this ambitious joint initiative is set to strengthen its position among the world’s 5G research and development forerunners.
Outcomes of 5G in Barcelona
The introduction of 5G technology is set to bring valuable benefits to the region, in the form of smarter environments and advanced technologies which will benefit citizens and emerging industries. 5G technology will improve access to the ‘Internet of Things’, paving the way for innovative new urban services including smart autonomous vehicles, drone-based services, industry 4.0 and access to remote eHealth services. It is anticipated to bring digital transformation to a number of services, and open opportunities for future generations in the form of infrastructure and careers in the field.
At the heart of the vision for 5GBarcelona is an experimental space within the city with a technological laboratory for the testing and development of pioneering 5G technologies and solutions. Whilst providing a space for new technologies, the digital hub is also designed to further Barcelona’s already thriving tech and innovation ecosystem that continues to attract startups and investment. The project sees the extensive collaboration of private and public organisations, also reflected the multiple international tech fairs held in Barcelona, with the Mobile World Congress and 4YFN just around the corner.
The coming months will see the founders of this groundbreaking initiative start to set in motion their plan to make Barcelona and Catalonia a European 5G Open Lab. This includes deploying infrastructure, identifying verticals to be offered support, involving organisations in the project, as well as the citizens of Catalonia itself. With the European Commission’s upcoming selection of a limited number projects with the aim of founding testing environments for 5G technologies as part of the 5G PPP programme, 5GBarcelona hopes to be among the featured programmes.
This open initiative marks another step towards Barcelona’s positioning as one of Europe’s leading tech and innovation ecosystems. Looking into 2018 and beyond, this joint project aspires to transform our thriving city into a metropolitan 5G testing hub – and we for one can’t wait to see the results.