Helsinki Airport Becomes the First 5G-Enabled Airport

Finland’s Helsinki Airport has become the first 5G airport in the world. The airport achieved the feat after Swedish telecommunications company, Telia, in partnership with Finnish airport operator, Finavia; launched a dedicated 5G network for the airport as well as unveiled a 5G-powered robot. The joint 5G project at the airport will explore the possibilities of using 5G in airport operations and bringing new kinds of experiences to passengers. With this, Finavia will also become Telia’s first customer using the pre-commercial 5G network in Finland.

The 5G robot operates in the non-Schengen area of T2 terminal. Telia and Finavia will study how the passengers and the airport personnel react and interact with an autonomous robot carrying out service tasks. According to Finavia’s Chief Digital Officer, Heikki Koski, the robot can deliver real-time video stream from the terminal and enable for example monitoring the terminal area through remote or autonomous control and see that everything is running as it should. The robot can also guide passengers in the terminal, and we aim to try different use cases during the project.

The data transmission and control of the robot is carried over a 5G base station at the airport. The network, based on technology by Nokia, utilizes the 28 GHz frequency band, the higher frequency band allocated for 5G. This is the first time in Finland that so called millimeter waves are used for 5G in a public use case. It will start with enterprise customers, especially for industrial automation and remote control. The low-latency connection and massive capacity of 5G will serve the airport well with its masses of passengers and data, and with the focus on security and fluency of services.

Telia opened a pre-commercial 5G network in Helsinki in early September. In November, the company launched 5G in the city of Oulu to support one of the first industrial 5G ecosystems in the world. The city of Vantaa just outside Helsinki where the airport is located is the third 5G city for Telia. Telia’s 5G network operates on test frequencies issued by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority. Actual commercial activity in the 5G network can be started at the beginning of 2019, when the licenses for new frequencies issued by the Government will enter into force. Telia won the 5G frequencies in the 3.5 GHz frequency range in a frequency auction, which ended on 1 October. 

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