From factories to the stadium, the future of 5G lies in co-innovation

A short overview of six Orange industrial partnerships aiming to co-innovate to find 5G business solutions

Low latency, ultra high-speed network slicing: 5G is a land of opportunity for businesses. Here are six Orange co-innovations in partnership with customers and partners.

Orange Vélodrome was the first 5G-equipped stadium in France

Last November, the Orange Vélodrome in Marseille became the first 5G-equipped stadium in France. Spectators can enjoy an unprecedented sonic experience using their smartphones to real-time mix the various live audio sources, such as ball contact and the crowd.

Connecting hundreds of smartphones to a customizable experience is easy with today’s high-speed networks. But when everyone in the stadium wants to have their own personal multimedia experience, connectivity with very-high-capacity 5G becomes essential.

The equipment at the Olympique de Marseille stadium is an example of technological and business co-innovation. “In all of its partnerships, Orange brings 5G to a specific place (such as a football stadium or factory), into a specific context and to a specific economic vertical,” says Olivier Wioland, Mobile Network Marketing Manager at Orange Business Services. “The starting point for co-innovation is always our customers’ needs. They come to us asking how 5G can help them to overcome a particular issue. We visit the customers’ premises to learn and understand with them how Orange Business Services can offer each customer the solution that’s right for them.”

The 5G-augmented technician

Orange is collaborating with Schneider Electric to explore the benefits of putting 5G at the heart of their industrial processes. 5G’s very low latency allows us to experiment with the “augmented technician.” This technician receives additional information via a virtual reality headset or augmented reality glasses. These glasses can be used to pull up extensive documentation or to communicate with a specialist technician by videoconference to repair a machine.

Orange is collaborating with the technological equipment manufacturer Lacroix to build the electronics factory of the future and explore indoor uses of 5G within a factory. “A module dedicated to technical building management enables both greater energy efficiency and remote control of a large number of machines,” said Damien Lenglet, Product Manager of 5G Co-innovations at Orange Business Services.

The data journey is becoming instantaneous

Orange is testing advanced 5G connectivity at its partners’ factories, developing a technology that will be commercially available in 2023. This 5G solution uses the “network slicing” technique, which varies connectivity quality depending on the object you want to connect. The network is divided into small “slices” of software, and each layer is tailored to a specific application (for example, very-low-latency connectivity for controlling a production line). “5G will enable us to make the data journey instantaneous within connected factories,” says Olivier Wioland.

So, 5G in a stadium and in a factory. And now also at a port! In December, Orange Belgium deployed a stand-alone 5G network at Antwerp, one of Europe’s largest ports. Olivier Wioland explains that “this is the first example of one of the ‘smart areas’ that we’ll be co-innovating with using 5G. A port presents all the same technological challenges as a city: it’s an area with lots of objects to connect and a high concentration of people in need of services. One of the main advantages of 5G is its mass connectivity, which, within one area, allows ten times more objects to be connected.”

Vehicles connected by Orange

Orange also connects vehicles via an On-Board-Unit (OBU) that’s installed in cars to network them using 5G. This work is being carried out in collaboration with UTAC CERAM at the TEQMO innovation center. This facility is a circuit in Linas-Montlhéry, where autonomous and connected vehicles receive certification.

Finally, Orange has launched a co-innovation project with SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français), the French state-owned railway company. To improve customer experience at the Rennes train station, travelers were offered ultra-fast 5G downloads. They were able to download a whole season of a series in a matter of seconds, which they could then relax and enjoy on their train journeys. It is one of the first projects to use 26 GHz millimeter wave frequencies, which is a different band from those being used for commercial launches in 2020.

Glenn Le Santo
Glenn Le Santo

Editor in Chief, International, at Orange Business Services. I'm in charge of our International website and the English language blogs at Orange Business Services. In my spare time I'm literally captain of my own ship, spending my time on the wonderful rivers and canals of England.