Sparsely populated regions are the final frontier of universal access to the Internet. In an effort to break through this barrier, Brazilian experts has been attending two technical missions to Europe to learn about real-life cases of 5G and IoT - Internet of Things solutions in remote areas in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Finland.
The missions rely on support of the European Union-Brazil Sector Dialogues Facility, and are part of the project “The impact of 5G and IoT technologies in sparsely populated regions”. The first mission visited Brussels and Gent, in Belgium, Wageningen and Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, and Verona and Bari, in Italy, on 28 May - 1 June. The second mission is scheduled to visit Madrid, in Spain, Stockholm, in Sweden, and Helsinki and Espoo, in Finland, on 4-8 June.
The first mission focused on the use of 5G and IoT technologies in the agribusiness sector. Members of the delegation include Moacyr Martucci, lecturer at the University of São Paulo (USP) and Director of the Institute for Studies Brazil-Europe (IBE); Alberto Paradisi, Vice-President for Research and Development at the Centre for Research and Development in Telecommunications (CPqD); Guilherme Correa, Infrastructure Analyst at the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC); and Thales Netto, Head of Incentives to Digital Innovation at the MCTIC.
According to experts, the technologies available today are typically designed to meet the requirements of developed nations, and cannot provide quality, cost-effective Internet access in remote areas due to constraints in the coverage area and the high cost of operation. The flexibility of 5G networks – short for fifth-generation mobile networks – can be used to overcome these constraints by providing Internet access in remote areas and enabling not only the digital inclusion of a significant portion of the Brazilian population, but also the development of a key industry for Brazil: agribusiness.
“Given the profile of our country, there are many opportunities to develop new businesses away from the large urban areas. In particular, agribusiness in Brazil would be leveraged by these technologies in terms of production control, logistics, sensing, and countless other benefits from enabling communication and control of electronic assets in the agribusiness industry,” says Rubens de Souza, Head of Industrial Innovation at the MCTIC.
In other words, 5G networks combined with the concept of Internet of Things (IoT) – the former being an enabler for the second – will allow the connection of a massive number of sensors and devices in crops and livestock, thus boosting agricultural yield by generating data and knowledge on climatic variables, soil conditions, position and movements of livestock and machinery on farms, to give just a few examples.
“One of the outlooks of 5G is to have the capacity of a broader coverage area than the current generations of mobile communications technology. In addition, we cannot simply consider developing generations of mobile technology targeted solely at large urban areas and overlook those who live and thrive in far-off locations of our immense country,” says Mr. Souza.
The goals of the second mission are to build relationships with European institutions and create opportunities for cooperation with counterpart institutions in Brazil; to gain insight into the state of the art of research, concept tests or tests on the use of 5G in remote or rural areas in the countries covered during the visits; and to understand the 5G solutions used in the individual countries and to determine if they could be applied in Brazil.
In addition to Rubens de Souza, delegation members include José Câmara Brito, Secretary-General for the 5G Brasil Project - INATEL (National Telecommunications Institute); Fabrício Lira, Smart Agribusiness Manager with the CPqD; and Luciano Mendes, Head of Research with the CRR (Radiocommunications Reference Centre) and Technical Coordinator for the 5G-RANGE - INATEL.
The group is scheduled to visit the research and development centres of Telefónica I+D in Madrid, Ericsson in Stockholm, and Nokia in Helsinki and Espoo, and will also be visiting 5G projects and environments for remote areas. Telefónica and Ericsson are part of the group of institutions working on the 5G-RANGE Project, one of the projects selected to receive support from the EU-Brazil Sector Dialogues.
Mr. Souza highlights the importance of the EU-Brazil partnership. “The exchange of scientific and technological knowledge between Brazil and the European Union will most likely enhance and enrich the countries involved in the Initiative and selected projects. While there are social, cultural and physical differences across countries, the exchange of experience and inputs to address shared challenges is extremely relevant.”
5G and IoT in Brazil
The Brazilian Government devised the National IoT Plan, which includes development and dissemination of this technology at the national level. The programme established the Management and Monitoring Chamber for the Development of Machine-to-Machine and Internet of Things (IoT) Communication Systems, which is a multi-sector body established through Decree 8,234, dated 2nd May, 2014.
Brazil is also a member of the standardisation group for the fifth-generation mobile communications technology of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the UN specialised agency for telecommunication – through the 5G Brasil Project, which has the participation of telecommunications companies, operators, regulators, trade and union organizations and academic institutions.
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