NTT - Cisco

RWTH Aachen looks for educational edge with private 5G

Global IT infrastructure and services company announces a live private 5G installation for a leading university in Germany to support and develop research, innovation and education

Just weeks after announcing at MWC 2023 that they were collaborating to bring private 5G to enterprise customers to accelerate industry transformation, NTT and Cisco have moved from pilot phase to live deployment with a private 5G mobile network for the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen in Germany.

With its 260 institutes in nine faculties, RWTH Aachen University is regarded as one of the leading European scientific and research institutions. Around 47,000 students in more than 150 courses of study are currently registered at the university, including 12,000 international students from 138 countries. Teaching and learning at RWTH is first and foremost application-oriented and its graduates are claimed to be sought-after as junior executives and leaders in business and industry.

RWTH said national rankings and international assessments attest to its graduates’ ability to handle complex tasks, to solve problems constructively in team work and to take on leadership roles. Many board members of German corporate groups studied at RWTH Aachen University.

Yet to support and develop research projects, RWTH Achen University believes that it was in need of stronger on-campus connectivity, particularly in area with teams of scientists and students focusing on research, and that it needed complete visibility and control over network functionality.

Due to the fact that private 5G networks work on a completely isolated frequency range, the university saw them as offering the visibility and control it needed, enabling it to control independently data and voice communication in buildings across campus. A team of scientists in each of the nine facilities on campus now benefit from optimal connectivity and interference-free digital applications for their work.

In addition, the mobile private 5G network was seen as being able to create the perfect conditions for the university’s important research projects due to the high bandwidth, real-time data transmission and low latency. RWTH Aachen University will use the P5G network for various research initiatives, including an EU-funded robot project, location-based emergency route planning, and the use of real-time data transmission in hospital operating theatres. In addition, the university is currently evaluating the possibility of using the campus network as an alternative to WLAN in the future. 

The campus network was implemented by NTT, together with Cisco Systems and Airspan Networks, is using Open RAN technology. In contrast to traditional radio access networks, the Open RAN approach is not tied to a specific manufacturer and offers greater flexibility. The modular architecture processes data in software instead of on chips, said to make it particularly suitable for research projects.

“The private 5G network is a very important step into the future for RWTH Aachen University,” said Frank Meeßen, coordinator of the 5G activities at RWTH Aachen University. “Thanks to the private radio range, we guarantee interference-free connectivity and can optimally implement our scientific applications. Our project partners have optimally implemented our high standards and created a network that we can even use flexibly by moving individual antennas.”

Kai Grunwitz, NTT managing director in Germany, added: “We are very pleased that we were able to support RWTH Aachen University in setting up the high-performance network. The university has demonstrated its commitment to excellence with the campus network and is now a scientific pioneer of private 5G in Germany.

“This quantum leap is made possible by the Cisco technology used in this project. By leveraging their advanced ORAN technology, the possibilities for future expansion and applications are endless.” 

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