Wireless data providers are working to install fifth generation (5G) cell coverage for commercial use in cities nationwide, but in the meantime, logistics industry sites are building their own private 5G networks in a move to take advantage of the technology’s improved speed and bandwidth.
In one recent example, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) teamed with AT&T in June to create a 5G network at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego in support of a suite of “smart warehouse” solutions.
And in the latest application, The Port of Virginia has named Verizon to build a similar system for high-bandwidth industrial uses and secure day-to-day networking, the partners said July 21. The deal is Verizon’s second with a major international port and its first with a U.S.-based terminal.
“Seaports provide some of the best possible examples of the power of private 5G, with uses spanning autonomous vehicles, connected heavy equipment, and secure, real-time tracking and logistics, among many others,” Sowmyanarayan Sampath, CEO of Verizon Business, said in a release.
Verizon Business and Virginia International Terminals LLC (VIT) will build the ultra wideband network at one of the port’s main container terminals, with plans to use the network to explore the use of autonomous over-the-road trucks for accessing the terminal to drop-off and pick-up shipping containers. The network also gives VIT the ability to replace WiFi with secure, private 5G connectivity across its Virginia International Gateway facility, a 275-acre marine terminal.
“Verizon’s On Site 5G private network is right for us because it’s flexible, scalable, and powerful enough for both industrial outdoor use and office broadband,” Rich Ceci, SVP of Technology and Projects at VIT, said in a release. “The development of autonomous vehicles technology applied to over-the-road trucks has significant environmental impacts, and addresses a major shortfall of truck drivers that is currently plaguing the transportation industry.”
In support of the project, VIT recently received a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to create a proof of concept for autonomous over-the-road trucks, including private 5G as a critical component of the solution. The facility handled 3.7 million twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) in its recently closed fiscal year, totalling 2 million containers.