Cellnex gets EU funds for shared 5G network for IoT, V2X on Czech-Poland border

Shared 5G infrastructure is to be deployed for smart vehicle and traffic communications, plus for rural connectivity, in cross-border areas between the Czech Republic and Poland. The project is funded by the European Union (EU) as part of its Connecting Europe Facility for digital projects (CEF Digital), running from 2021 to 2027. The award, worth a little over €2 million, is being managed by tower company Towerlink Poland, part of Spanish firm Cellnex, and wholesale network operator CETIN AS (Česká Telekomunikační Infrastruktura), part of Czech investment group PPF.

The specific project, called BALTCOR5G, aims to deploy cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) infrastructure to connect Baltic-Adriatic road corridor sections between Poland and the Czech Republic to enable “seamless network coverage and handover”, says the European Commission (EC) website. It is part of a third funding call for projects  under the CEF Digital project, which closed on February 20. Twelve projects, both works and studies, were launched in the beginning of 2023 and are “ongoing”; a second round of six additional projects closed in March 2023.

Towerlink Poland and CETIN AS are looking to develop “novel business models” with the BALTCOR5G infrastructure project, which is scheduled to take three years to complete (through 2026). They will deploy “several sites” h in Poland and the Czech Republic along 125 kilometres of the A1 road in cross-border regions between the cities Częstochowa and Ostrava. The goal is to support IoT sensors, including cameras, for traffic and road management purposes, and to establish a neutral host setup for “different stakeholders – like mobile operators or road administrators”. 

As well, they will look to support next-generation connected and automated mobility (CAM) solutions for the automotive market, including via new multi-access edge compute (MEC) infrastructure. A statement said: “The project will enable testing 5G for mobility, including digitizing the road infrastructure with a network of sensors, such as HD cameras that use 5G to send video streams in real-time to AI components for road traffic. This will allow the road operator to monitor the highway traffic in detail, in one-or-two kilometre segments, and manage the traffic intelligently.”

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It continued: “The project assumes two categories of infrastructure. The first concerns a shared 5G infrastructure and includes passive, active, and transmission layers. Thanks to the deployment of passive infrastructure, mobile operators can host 5G macro equipment to provide coverage. Transmission infrastructure will ensure data transfers to newly deployed sites, and their connection to the core networks of operators. The second category of infrastructure CAM solutions. IThis part of the project will begin with deployment of MEC layer at the sites near the road, to process locally the data collected from the customers, ass lowering latency times.”

Santiago Argelich Hesse, chief executive at Cellnex Poland, said: “We are proud to support the European roadmap to provide continuous and quality connectivity of cross-border roads, promoting improved mobility, road safety, and economic development…. Working with our Czech partner on a cross-border corridor connectivity is a unique example of cooperation between a tower company and a wholesale operator, exceeding the interests of one particular country. This project will be significant in securing seamless communication on a crucial transport route for European businesses.”

Juraj Šedivý, chief executive at Cetin Group, said: “We are excited to be part of the BALTCOR5G initiative, working alongside Towerlink Poland to deploy shared 5G infrastructure in [the] cross-border [area] between the Czech Republic and Poland. This collaboration underscores our commitment to extend and improve 5G coverage in all underserved areas. With the support of European Union’s CEF funding, we aim to pave the way for innovative digital infrastructure solutions like connected automated mobility.”

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