Frankfurt Airport appoints NTT to deliver “Europe’s largest private 5G network”
Frankfurt-based airport operator Fraport, which operates Frankfurt Airport in Germany, has commissioned IT service provider NTT to build the “Europe’s largest private 5G campus network” (so-far announced), it has said. Work on the project will begin in the third quarter, with network tests in a “selected area” of the airport, and an initial scope of use cases. From 2023, the 5G network will expand across over 20 square kilometres of Frankfurt Airport, it said.
Fraport has a licence from German regulator BNetzA to run its own 5G network in the airport vicinity in the 3.7-3.8 GHz band. NTT, which has a preferred supply contract with US-based Celona for core network components and an open deal with radio (RAN) suppliers, has been engaged to run the initial tests, and to evaluate potential use cases in co-creation. The pair are looking at 5G to support automation, robotics, sensors, localization, and communication.
In a press note, Fraport made reference to support for “autonomous driving on the apron” – the parking zones away from the runways where aircraft are loaded/unloaded, refuelled, and maintained. It also suggested the network could be used for “real-time” data transfers for “future applications” such as video-based monitoring of airport facilities via robots or drones. The setup will enable it to “control data and voice communication autonomously”, it said.
It will be made available to “other partner companies” using the airport campus following its commercial launch in 2023. The project was hailed as a “milestones” and “groundbreaking” by Fraport and NTT, respectively. NTT stated: “5G is undoubtedly one of the most important technologies, if not the most important, when it comes to enabling innovative digitalization projects with the highest standards of speed and reliability.”
Wolfgang Standhaft, chief information officer at Fraport, said: “We are laying the strategic foundations that will help us make airport operations even more efficient in the future thanks to innovation and digitalization… In addition to speeding up work processes at Fraport, the new network will benefit numerous other companies operating… We are greatly looking forward to offering our partners at FRA such a future-oriented and reliable solution.”
Kai Grunwitz, country managing director for Germany at NTT, said: “NTT intends to play a pioneering role in establishing these [5G] networks. Frankfurt Airport is the driving force and economic engine for the entire Rhine-Main region and beyond. With the 5G campus network solution, we are jointly creating a new central nervous system of connectivity. This will form the basis for our work on efficient solutions and trailblazing use cases for the future.”