LMT and LVR Fleet successfully trial new tech concept to enable 5G at sea

Latvian mobile innovator LMT, in collaboration with technical port services provider LVR Fleet, has recently succeeded in trialing a 5G technology maritime concept that holds the potential to enable 5G connectivity over open waters. The trial was conducted on the Daugava River in Riga, and demonstrated uninterrupted 5G shore-to-ship and ship-to-ship connectivity.

A 5G connection was established with a ship using a terrestrial network, and the 5G network connectivity was successfully passed from the ship to the end user. Following the successful trial, LMT and LVR Fleet will progress to a wide-scale trial of the 5G technology maritime concept in the Baltic Sea in November 2023.

The 5G technology maritime concept makes use of the multi-hop principle – the 5G network signal is passed on from one ship to the next, enabling shore-to-ship and ship-to-ship communication in the sea. The concept foresees a 5G network and 5G base station deployed on the ship. Combined with short-range networks from land stations and 5G non-terrestrial networks to cover international waters, it can potentially enable many new 5G use cases, making traffic, travel and transport on the open waters safer and more efficient.

“In the near future, maritime 5G networks will allow various innovations, such as autonomous ships or UAV drones for remote control. Even though 5G connectivity has already begun to enable the maritime digitalisation ecosystem, it still requires a lot of testing. The Baltic Sea and its region is a suitable space for such trials, and we are eager to embrace this innovation potential,” stated Artūrs Lindenbergs, Mobility Innovation Lead at LMT.

Providing 5G coverage over large areas of open water is challenging, and the success rate of ongoing testing and trials within the industry remains relatively low. Hence, the recent LMT and LVR Fleet trial marks a potential turning point in enabling 5G connectivity at sea. Moreover, the recently tested 5G technology maritime concept could enable 5G coverage in the Baltic Sea, turning it into a testbed for maritime innovations.

The trial was held within the scope of a collaboration memorandum between LMT and the LVR Fleet, signed in June 2022. The initial concept of the trial was developed as part of the 5G-ROUTES project – an international future mobility initiative to develop innovative and commercially exploitable connected and automated mobility (CAM) use cases and ensure cross-border automated mobility. The development of the trial concept within the project was led by LMT.