5G technology takes several steps forward in Latvia

The information and communication technology (ICT) service provider “Bite” and the Swedish telecommunications equipment manufacturer “Ericsson” have entered into a transaction regarding the deployment of 5G technology in Latvia. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on Tuesday, May 17, in Stockholm, said Bite representatives.

The deal foresees the construction of 200 new 5G base stations during the year, providing coverage of the 5G network in Rīga and the vicinity and major cities of Latvia, Bite said.

The first cities and areas in which 5G base stations will be built will be those where the fastest growing demand for mobile Internet and network capacity is observed: Mārupe, Baloži, Ogre, Ķekava, Jūrmala, Carnikava, Saulkrasti, Zvejniekciems, Skulte. 

"So far, we have worked a lot and made preparations to prepare for the introduction of 5G, for example by providing with the necessary frequency package. In addition, we have obtained an internationally recognized and strategically important partner. Ericsson is one of the leading ICT service providers in the world, with over 145 years of “know-how” experience in the industry," said Kaspars Buls, chief executive of Bite.

He noted that it is essential that the cooperation is concluded with the “Bite Group”, so Ericsson will be a partner for the introduction of “Bite” 5G in Latvia and Lithuania..

The aim of Bite will be to create 5G services that can be used by everyone. The agreement on cooperation also includes upgrading the existing 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

"It should be stressed that “Bite” and “Ericsson” have signed an agreement on strategic long-term cooperation, both on the deployment of 5G and on upgrading existing 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

Currently, “Bite” has built 925 base stations throughout Latvia, equipped with 4G technology. “Bite”, in partnership with the subsidiary company Unistar, has built 12 base stations equipped with 5G technology. “Bite Latvia” holdings 100% are owned by Bite Lithuania, which is a company of the international asset management company, Providence Equity Partners. 

In a separate development also involving the development of 5G technoloy, the first use case demonstrations as a part of the 5G-ROUTES project have been held at the 5G cross-border mobility testbed at the Bikernieki race track in Rīga.

5G-ROUTES project

The testbed imitates cross-border connectivity, which is crucial for testing connected and automated mobility innovations before implementing them in Europe – a continent of many borders and mobile operators. Four cross-border use cases were demonstrated in total by several 5G-ROUTES project partners.

The Latvian Institute of Electronics and Computer Science showcased dynamic vehicles platooning – a scenario in which an autonomous vehicle copies the maneuvers performed by a manually controlled vehicle, using only vehicle data sent and received over a commercial 5G network. 

The VEDECOM Institute for the Energy Transition and Tallinn University of Technology (TTU) tested two interconnected use cases – a vulnerable road user (VRU) collision avoidance and connected maintenance. In the demo, a pedestrian received alerts from a connected electric vehicle that had detected faults via sensors, warning the pedestrian of a potential collision and providing crucial seconds to remove themselves from danger. The VRU and the electric vehicle were each connected to a different mobile operator, testing the cross-border connectivity.  

The fourth cross-border connectivity use case demonstrated multiuser gaming on the go hosted by Brainstorm. It showcased the 5G non-standalone (NSA) network capabilities by testing multiplayer gameplay with gamers connected via a 5G-enabled smartphone and laptop. 

Latvia's cross-border 5G mobility space was launched as a part of the 5G-ROUTES project – an EU-funded future mobility initiative to develop innovative and commercially exploitable CAM (connected and automated mobility) use cases and ensure cross-border automated mobility. The testbed has been developed by the Latvian mobile innovator LMT, in close collaboration with Estonia's Telia. 

“The biggest challenge in testing innovations over the 5G network in a cross-border setting is finding a safe environment that enables undisturbed testing in realistic conditions. Thus, a closed and safe cross-border testing space significantly alleviates this hurdle, facilitating testing on a wider scale and massively accelerating the development of innovative cross-border solutions in all industries, including smart mobility,” said Artūrs Lindenbergs, Mobility Innovation Lead at LMT. 

The 5G-ROUTES project, with a consortium made up of 21 partners from 9 European countries, began work on September 1, 2020. Since then, it has demonstrated several use cases and worked on providing the necessary 5G infrastructure for cross-border testing. 

The project's consortium is preparing to test use cases in the Valka-Valga trial site, located on the Latvian-Estonian border, and the Finnish-Estonian cross border trial site, situated between the Vuosaari and Muuga harbors. Use case testing in the 5G mobility testbed in Latvia was hosted by 5G-ROUTES consortium member LMT, who also coordinates the implementation of the 5G infrastructure across the 5G-ROUTES test sites in Latvia, Estonia, and Finland in collaboration with project partners. 

The 5G-ROUTES project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 951867.

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