– What is Umeå 5G?

Umeå 5G is a venture that will establish Umeå as Sweden’s first 5G city. The whole of Umeå will be a test environment for developing new digital solutions, products and services that provide community benefits and a better everyday life for residents.

Five public stakeholders in Umeå are working together throughout 2018-2019 to build an infrastructure that will include the first 5G hospital and 5G university in Europe.

– What is 5G technology?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks that are expected to revolutionize our society. 5G can process large amounts of data in new, more advanced ways. 5G provides extremely fast connections with extremely low latency, greater reliability and security than today’s network solutions, at lower cost and using less energy.

5G will provide completely new opportunities for a smarter, more connected world. We already know the principles of 5G but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and here in Umeå we will be investigating these in the years ahead.

Read more about 5G technology

– Why should Umeå invest in 5G?

In order to further strengthen Umeå’s position as an innovative, creative and attractive university and IT city – both for existing residents as well as new stakeholders, investors, companies and other concerns. We expect the investment to produce a positive ‘ripple effect’ in the form of new jobs, a rise in the city’s population, more business ventures and export opportunities.

Umeå can also help Sweden establish a prominent role within 5G development, creating a deeper cooperation with other cities at the digital forefront – both in Sweden and abroad.

– What is the aim of the project?

5G technology is not an end in itself, but is an important prerequisite for any connected smart city.

  • A long-term goal is to offer the residents of Umeå leading-edge community services that facilitate everyday life in completely new ways. To achieve ‘digital happiness’.
  • A short-term goal is to establish Umeå as the first large-scale 5G city in Sweden, where we put both the technical infrastructure in place (5G networks) plus an effective model for testing, developing and implementing new digital solutions, products and services.

– What benefits can Umeå residents expect to see?

That Umeå becomes an even more accessible city to live in, and access to important community services is possible in smarter, more efficient ways. Those who wish to engage as users or operate companies in the IT sector will also have the opportunity to participate in the test activities being conducted in 2019.

– Which stakeholders are behind Umeå 5G?

The five public stakeholders involved in this venture are Umeå Municipality, University Hospital of Umeå, Umeå Energi, Västerbotten County Council and Umeå Science Park (which is also the project owner).

– What can you use 5G technology for?

5G is so much more than just smartphones! Many new applications can be developed in the digital society of the future; solutions, products and services that we can only dream about today. 5G will provide the necessary infrastructure for the Internet of Things (IoT), creating new possibilities for using sensors, computers, smartphones, clocks, eyewear and cameras, where real-time digital reality is combined with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

For example:

Control of road signals for increased safety and efficiency. Information relayed to drivers on road conditions, traffic queues, vehicle performance, fuel usage and optimization and automatic braking in the event of a traffic hazard etc. Provides communications between connected vehicles such as self-driven buses, cars, lorries or mobile retail stores.

All kinds of products and services that will allow patients and relatives to benefit from care at a distance – from consultation to surgery. Health applications where you can keep track of your own and your family’s vital signs. Safer, faster and automatic communication between healthcare equipment and healthcare professionals, e.g. from ambulances to hospital emergency departments updating a patient’s status and what treatments are needed, or which is the fastest route to take to the hospital to save valuable time.

Education and research
Remote interaction between teachers and students will become more common and have more practical applications. In courses where skills derived from muscle memory need to be trained, e.g. in nursing or artistic subjects, ‘Tactile internet’ learning can be employed using sophisticated touch-based remote solutions. Research collaboration is more easily enabled and can be far more advanced.

Smart buildings and smart networks
Stability and flexibility allows residents to individually customize, for example, heating, lighting and household appliances, depending on when and who lives in the property and what routines they have. Smart waste bins that inform the waste collection services when they need to be emptied etc.

Automation, robots and real-time applications can help save valuable time and free up vital skills, facilitate the development of new business models and enhance the overall quality of businesses.

Security and crisis management
Real-time monitoring, perhaps using face-recognition cameras, in public places where it is important that help arrives quickly. In the event of crises and accidents a particular part of a network can be secured exclusively for crisis communication.

Consumer electronics
Lightning fast, high-quality networks for smartphones, computers, televisions, audio systems, etc. Likely to be a big change in how we interact with games, sports, movies and music.

It may be possible, for example, to arrange a concert with musicians from different parts of the world that simultaneously play a piece in real time – something that is not possible today. In general you will get a much richer, more immersive experience of concerts and performances enjoyed at a distance, as images, sound and connection speeds are enhanced. In addition the experience can be enhanced digitally with, for example, AR and VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality). Downloading movies can be done in a blink of an eye.

The ability to view matches from different angles at the same time, in real time, while simultaneously receiving additional information about players, statistics, etc.

Provides a greater overall experience and ability to collaborate with unlimited numbers of players, enhanced ability to combine digital elements with a real physical environment (such as Pokémon Go).

Consumers can, to a greater extent and in a much more realistic way than today, explore travel destinations, evaluate their seats on a plane or take a tour of a cruise ship before even making a booking.

– What does it really mean to be a reality lab or test bed environment?

It means that we will test new services and technology solutions directly ‘in reality’ in the everyday lives of Umeå residents and not in some detached artificial pilot project. This will provide the best understanding and feedback for what really works in practice. Of course this will be carried out in very secure environments with participants who volunteer to get involved.

– How is 5G Umeå funded?

In the initial establishment phase Umeå 5G is being funded with resources from the five public stakeholders who jointly run the venture together. In a future larger scale step investment is expected from national and international stakeholders as well as private investors.

– Why is Umeå suitable be the first Swedish city to go 5G?

  • Umeå is already a world-leader for broadband and connectivity and intends to continue to lead the way as a digital city of the future
  • Umeå’s stakeholders are known to be results-oriented and have a track record of delivering projects on time with decisive management and measured decision-making
  • Umeå has already established relationships with strong partners who have expertise in the areas required for a 5G test environment
  • Västerbotten has valuable experience in an effective working method for the testing and implementation of new technology and new methods of collaboration, among other things through an established, nationally and internationally recognised innovation process in partnership via Västerbotten County Council and University Hospital of Umeå.

– When and how will residents and those visiting Umeå be able to start using 5G?

It is important to distinguish between Umeå as a test area and the full-scale expansion of the 5G network in Sweden. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) is the body that decides and assigns permission to use the frequency spectrum in Sweden.

  • Testing activities in Umeå municipality will take place in reality in 2019. After that we will be ready to roll out full-scale 5G commercially.

PTS has developed a 5G spectrum plan, with a goal of establishing Sweden as one of Europe’s leading 5G nations. The spectrum plan enables large-scale testing operations until the end of December 2019, which provides a unique opportunity for Umeå to become the first 5G city in Sweden.

  • By 2020 the commercial 5G network will start to be expanded throughout Sweden. Those operators who will help this expansion in the frequency spectrum will be determined in PTS’s allocation project, which is scheduled for completion in 2019.

5G is expected to break through globally by 2020, and for a period of time will work in tandem with 4G and 3G.

– Which operators and technology suppliers do you cooperate with?

In the initial phase, Umeå 5G has a partnership with Telia Company and Ericsson. Further on other collaborations will be possible.

– How will the 5G test environment and your project work in practice?

The project focuses on two areas:

  1. To build up the 5G infrastructure in Umeå

Installation of 5G technology with transmitters in Umeå, starting with the university and hospital areas.

  1. To establish an Innovation arena

Establish the most effective way to test, develop, evaluate and implement large-scale digital solutions, products and services. Västerbotten already has a nationally acclaimed innovation model for public and private sector collaborations that we will build upon, as well as coordinate with ongoing relevant smart city projects to optimise results.

Collaboration and partnerships are important to how we work and we will continue to develop relationships with community services, operators, suppliers, companies and public institutions, in order to get as many different perspectives as possible.

– How can companies use the test bed?

Companies that have a solution, product and/or service they want to test in the 5G network will be offered both a test environment in Umeå and an efficient, proven method of investigating and displaying the actual value of their product or service.

There are currently no final decisions about which companies or solutions we will test and evaluate – but everyone is welcome to submit their interest.

– The University Hospital of Umeå and Umeå University will be Sweden’s (and probably Europe’s) first 5G-connected hospital and university. What benefits will it bring?

It will be exciting to find out! What happens at both places will play an important part in our digital transformation.

The University Hospital of Umeå (Nus) will benefit from a more advanced and improved IT infrastructure, which allows for greater opportunities to use collected data and Big Data for clinical purposes, or perform a greater proportion of care in patients’ homes, and in doing so potentially develop brand new forms of care in the future.

The first 5G university will provide opportunities for research and education at the forefront of, for example, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and IoT, developing applications in a number of scientific areas, from medicine, engineering and natural science to social sciences and humanities.

– Are there any risks to being ‘early adopters’ of this new technology?

There are always challenges when being first. But in Umeå we like to take the opposite view – that doing nothing at all is a bigger problem. Someone has to dare to break new ground and we are happy to take up the challenge so that Umeå can continue to offer leading-edge digital services to its residents and remain a vibrant and attractive city in the future.

– What are the obstacles for 5G technology?

5G is an advanced, complex and relatively explored concept in practice, and everyone agrees that 5G will be of great importance to society. However no one really knows exactly how it will be achieved, what it will deliver, or what financing and business models will be needed to realise it.

There are also some question marks over the physical expansion of antennas that need to be addressed, and how they might affect the environment and public health. Security surrounding data management and integrity is another area for consideration. Umeå 5G wants to play its part in helping to find the answers!

– 5G requires more transmitters and antennas than 4G, so how will it affect the environment and people’s health? Are there any health risks with this new technology?

According to Ericsson, the power levels of the radio signals transmitted by 5G radio equipment will be of similar or lower magnitude as those used in previous networks. 5G devices will be designed and tested to comply with established radio wave exposure limits. 5G base stations will be positioned so that the exposure in homes and public areas is well below the limits.

To address the demands of increased performance, 5G base stations and devices will use many antennas. Arrays of up to hundreds of small antennas at the base station will make it possible to focus the transmission of radio waves to maximize the signals that the connected devices receive. This is called beamforming or massive MIMO. Thanks to this technology the transmitted power can be kept low resulting in radio wave exposure at similar levels as in previous networks, even though the performance is significantly improved.

Umeå 5G will be active in investigating the health, design and environmental aspects of being a connected city to help try and answer any questions and concerns. Our work will be based on scientific results and proven experience.

– How is 5G developing in other countries?

China is at the forefront of the field, in competition with a number of private parties around the world who are approaching the technology in various different ways in, for example, Japan, South Korea and the United States. There is, as far as we know, no European city that has yet to establish itself as a test environment or test bed – although interest is considerable and test environments have been established in Tech City, London, and the University of Berlin. Estonia, Finland. In the EU Commission’s 5G Action Plan every EU country should have a 5G city by 2020, and Umeå’s initiative means Sweden can now fulfill that goal.

– What do we/you want from Umeå 5G?

That Umeå becomes an automatic choice for all companies and residents who want to test, develop and use solutions for the digital society of the future.

– What’s the next step for Umeå 5G?

Throughout the winter we will continue our project for the expansion of 5G, deepen our dialogue with stakeholders and partner companies, establish focus areas and develop our financing model.

The project is ready for start-up at the turn of the year and the ambition is to begin tests at the hospital and university areas during the first quarter of 2019. Umeå 5G will then be rolled out into the entire city as a test environment and this phase is expected to last for three years. Results are continuously evaluated and the solutions, products and services that we feel create the most value will then be implemented.