Belgium’s Citymesh taps Nokia for nationwide drone network

nokia drone

Nokia’s drone-in-a-box offering is off to flying start, having only officially been on the market for a couple of weeks.

The Finnish kit maker revealed on Wednesday that Belgian B2B provider Citymesh is using its solution for a nationwide drone network to support emergency services. Depending on the type of emergency, a drone can be deployed to gather critical information on behalf of responders within the critical 15-minute window of receiving a call.

Rather than organise emergency services by municipality, Belgium is divided up into 35 emergency zones, and two drones will be on standby in each one of them. They can connect to public and private 4G and 5G networks, and are equipped with 4K cameras and thermal imaging sensors, which always come in handy in a sticky situation.

Citymesh’s safety drone service, called SENSE, actually launched in March, and is the culmination of extensive testing, which began as far back as 2018, and included pilot services in Genk, the port of Antwerp-Bruges, Brussels airport, and with the fire services in Kortrijk and Fluvia. It’s a service that is close to Citymesh CEO Mitch De Geest’s heart, given he has worked for the Belgian fire service.

“We are proud to be selected by Citymesh as the turnkey 5G drone-in-a-box platform provider for SENSE,” said Thomas Eder, head of embedded wireless solutions at Nokia, in a statement. “Our 5G-connected drone platform is a logical extension of our leadership in building nationwide wireless networks. Nokia Drone Networks is a game-changer for operational efficiency of first responders and data security.”

“SENSE is a great example of how technology can save lives,” added Hans Similon, general manager, Citymesh Safety Drone. “We’ve been impressed with Nokia as our partner for reliable wireless connectivity and an outstanding turnkey drone-in-a-box solution that we can customise to our specific needs. Together, we’re making Belgium safer and proving just how innovative we are as a nation.”

SENSE also offers further proof that it is possible to be a successful B2B-led mobile operator.

Citymesh became Belgium’s fourth MNO in 2022, when it exercised an €83 million option to acquire a limited portfolio of spectrum in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2100 MHz bands. It added to its holdings months later, acquiring 50 MHz of unpaired 3.6-GHz spectrum for €31 million at Belgium’s first 5G auction.

Following the auction, it established a joint venture with its parent to build a nationwide 5G network. Since then, Citymesh has continued to focus solely on the B2B, industrial and smart cities markets, leaving Digi to address the B2C sector.


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