Smart Connected Airports: Brussels Airport Innovates with Private 5G Network

Brussels Airport launches private 5G-ready network by the end of March 2020, using Nokia 5G technology.
Susan Fourtané
Brussels International Airport stellalevi/iStock 

The next-generation of wireless network that will succeed 4G is set to improve connectivity between people and things. In 2020, larger deployments of 5G networks will take place across all industries, including the aviation industry. 5G connectivity means lower latency, larger bandwidths, and radios closer to the edge via smaller cells. Industries are expected to use technology to reach a new level of efficiency and productivity. All in all, intelligent connectivity is going to become the heart of new ecosystems and growth.

By 2021, it is expected that 50 million people worldwide could be using 5G. This figure could be rising to 1.2 billion people by 2025. Reliable, low-latency, up to 1GB mobile broadband speeds are going to be globally available as part of the everyday life.  

According to a GSMA Intelligence report, the number of 5G global connections is going to reach 1.3 billion by 2025 covering 40 percent of the world’s population or approximately 2.7 billion people. More than ever, the collaboration will be paramount to face and solve the complexity that the next-generation network brings. 

Brussels Airport launches private 5G-ready network by the end of March 2020 using Nokia 5G technology

brussels airport
Brussels Airport debuts private 5G network, Source: Joel Carillet/iStock 

Brussels Airport welcomed 25.7 million passengers in 2018. That number will escalate to 34 million by 2031, and to 40 million passengers in 2040, according to Brussels Airport. Following the Strategic Vision 2040 and in order to offer all future passengers a smooth journey, Brussels Airport Company plans to invest in new terminal infrastructure, better connectivity, and airfield optimization among other developments. 

“The airport reached a new record in 2019, welcoming 26.4 passengers,” said Arnaud Feist, CEO of airport owner and operator Brussels Airport Company. Writing for The Brussels Times, Oscar Schneider reported that in 10 years, the number of passengers went from 17 million in 2009 to 26.4 million in 2019, but the number of flights remained stable during this period. Following this growth, by 2040, Brussels Airport can provide jobs, directly or indirectly, to 120,000 people.

Private 5G network: Brussels Airport partners with Nokia and Citymesh 

According to the Strategic Vision 2040's plan, Brussels Airport Company is launching a 5G-ready network at its international airport in March in collaboration with Finnish Nokia and Belgian operator Citymesh. The airport innovation at one of the first sites in Belgium and one of the first airports in Europe with 5G technology is set to speed up the airport's operational efficiency and support further technological innovation and automation.  

“Brussels Airport selecting Nokia Digital Automation Cloud platform to build industrial-grade private wireless, powering digital transformation with 4.9/LTE now and 5G next to create its vision of the future, is a great endorsement,” said Stephan Litjens, General Manager, Nokia Digital Automation. According to Litjens, automation of airports is essential for increased efficiency, reliability and enhanced operational awareness as airports transform their business models”.

“The value of the network will bring to Brussels Airport clearly showcases the importance of private deployments. We are excited to support them in a variety of real-life use cases which were impossible to achieve with WiFi or on the public networks”, said Mitch De Geest, CEO of Citymesh. “Together with Brussels Airport, we are pushing towards new frontiers which will allow industries all over Belgium to create a competitive edge by tapping into private mobile connectivity scenarios.”

According to the Company, a private 5G-ready network offers a more efficient and faster connectivity than Wi-Fi or public 4G across the airport grounds. This means that the higher capacity of 5G will allow the airport to deploy additional new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automated vehicles, mobile safety systems, or track-and-trace technology. 

"Brussels Airport confirms its pioneering position in digital innovation by installing its own 5G-ready network as one of the first sites in Belgium and as one of the first airports in Europe," said Arnaud Feist. "In addition to allowing a further optimization of the airport's operations, the 5G technology will also enable us to accelerate digital innovations and facilitate the integration of future technologies."

"The value of the network will bring to Brussels Airport clearly showcase the importance of private deployments. Indeed, Brussels Airport is of strategic importance for the economic growth of Belgium."Brussels Airport is the second pole of economic growth in our country and creates tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in our country. The airport is a gateway to the rest of the world, essential for the thousands of other companies in our country that import and export products through Brussels Airport," said Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium.

Private 5G networks for connected airports 

5G by susan fourtane
5G-ready operational networks deliver the reliability, predictability, and low-latency airports of the future need, Source: Susan Fourtané

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport counts with a private LTE network using Nokia technologies. 

According to Nokia, the company's industrial-grade Private Wireless solution provides pervasive connectivity that can help airports ensure safe, on-time, and fully connected journeys. It provides a dedicated, 5G-ready operational network that delivers the reliability, predictability, and low-latency airports need for critical operational services and applications.

Moreover, this frees the airport's existing Wi-Fi networks to deliver a faster and richer connected experience for passengers, retail tenants, and airport guests. Airports can be compared to small cities. They need great and fast communications since this is key to airport success, safety, and revenue growth.

Brussels Airport Company chose Nokia as a partner because Nokia's mission-critical communications solution for airports features a converged, multiservice network that delivers the highest levels of operational efficiency with just one network to optimize and maintain. In addition, with true broadband access, passengers get enhanced services, such as infotainment. That is important because, by enabling a better overall customer experience, airports can grow their revenue, and at the end of the day everyone wins. 

See Also: Everything You Need to Know About the Coming 5G Revolution 

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