Oulu takes 5G to the Olympic Games

Oulu brings technological citius, altius and fortius to Pyeongchang with 5G

The XXIII Olympic Winter Games in the South Korean Pyeongchang County is a massive event, taking place from 9 to 25 February 2018. Dozens of major corporations have planned their visibility there, either as an official sponsor of the games, or taking part in the several side events during the 2018 Winter Olympics. One major event is the IoT street, where latest technology is brought visible to olympic visitors. But Koreans are hard to impress, with their own technological advances being on par with Japan and China.

“The increasing trend is that Koreans develop technology that Americans build advanced internet services. Europe is falling behind”, says Olli Liinamaa, who is leading 5G Test Network creation in Oulu. It is no wonder that the European Commission is funding research project targeting technological leadership.   5GCHAMPION, started 2016, is one of those funded projects.  5GCHAMPION has members from both Europe and South Korea. The consortium is lead by CEA-LETI in France and ETRI in Korea, both distinguished research institutes, and members include technology heavyweights like the Fraunhofer Institute, Intel, South Korea Telecom and Insoft. But what is interesting is that of the eight European members, two are Oulu-based: Nokia’s Rusko Campus and the University of Oulu.

Oulu, the global frontrunner in 5G

Liinamaa works for both the Oulu University and Nokia’s Rusko Campus, so it’s no surprise that he’s part of the team that takes 5G to the Olympics. Although there’s “plenty enough” left to do before February, it’s obvious that the sheer scope of the event demands excellence in presentation. For example, the IoT street is an actual street closed from usual traffic, with a 5G-connected bus driving on it, connecting to the 5G networks as it goes. Visitors get to try out a 360° live view with VR glasses of the event (which will also be broadcast live in Oulu and enriched with augmented reality) connect to the 5G with special network devices and learn about the possibilities of the new technology. The next step is bringing all the project’s technology to Oulu in early 2018, run it through several tests and work out any glitches, and of course, practice for the event.

The reason Oulu is so heavily involved in the project is simple. “Oulu is an extremely fruitful place to do this kind of thing. The cooperation network is extensive, the experience and history of doing radio technology is massive, and the response rate from the public sector is extremely fast”, explains Liinamaa.

Olli Liinamaa is a 5G Test Network Project Lead at Oulu University and Nokia.