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Vodafone builds a hybrid Porsche…network

Vodafone Business has rolled out a 5G hybrid private mobile network for Porsche Engineering at its Italian tech centre as part of a push to further the development of the connected cars agenda.

Vodafone’s killing two birds with one stone here. The hybrid nature of the network – and it’s a first of its kind in Europe, apparently – means that 5G connectivity is available to both the car maker and the local population.

The mobile operator explains that its hybrid infrastructure incorporates a private network that is fully integrated into its public mobile network. So while Porsche Engineering gets a lovely slice of private 5G to support its connected vehicle endeavours at its Nardò Technical Center, those living in the area – in Lecce, Southern Italy – get to sign up for faster mobile services. Win-win.

The Nardò Technical Center, which has been owned by Porsche fr the past decade, has 4G and 5G coverage throughout, as well as the ability to offer users a high-performance 1 Gbps connection to the cloud, Vodafone said. The centre covers an area of more than 700 hectares – or 7 square kilometres, whichever you prefer – and includes 20 tracks for vehicle testing.

That’s a pretty big private network deployment, essentially covering the area of a small town.

“In Nardò, MPN technology enables a facility that resembles an actual smart city, with coverage that is seamless on and off campus for the next generation of applications that will transform transportation and mobility,” said Vodafone Business Chief Executive Vinod Kumar. “We’re excited to help the team in Nardò to plan for the future and unlock the business potential with some of our latest technologies.”

Users of the Nardò Technical Center will be able to delve into new business-critical applications, from connectivity to vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure links, and automated driving, leading up to self-driving vehicles.

Porsche itself isn’t giving too much away on what those applications might look like, but that’s too be expected.

“At our proving ground in Nardò, we are committed to constantly push technologies to the next level—so our customers can successfully meet the increasing demands of future mobility,” said Peter Schäfer, CEO of Porsche Engineering and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Nardò Technical Center.

“With the new 5G network, NTC offers its customers now an even better infrastructure to develop and test intelligent, autonomous, and connected vehicles,” Schäfer said.

The hybrid private mobile network in Nardò is part of a broader partnership between Vodafone and Porsche. In August last year the mobile operator flipped the switch on a 5G standalone network at the car maker’s Weissach Development Centre in Germany.

At the time the pair particularly focused on the benefits of network slicing afforded by 5G standalone, noting that they would be able to provide small sub-networks with guaranteed bandwidth and latency for certain projects at the site. And looking further ahead, of course, the mission-critical nature of automotive communications makes network slicing a must for self-driving cars and related applications.

There’s still a lot to be worked out before we get to fully automated driving, but the mobile operators are certainly doing their part to put the required comms infrastructure in place.

 

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