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Plans announced for 5G 'ecosystem' within Belfast Harbour

Plans have been announced for a "state-of-the-art" 5G ecosystem within the port of Belfast
Rebecca Black, Press Association

Plans have been announced for a "state-of-the-art" 5G ecosystem within the port of Belfast.

BT and Belfast Harbour have teamed up to deliver a live 5G Private Network designed specifically to achieve the highest levels of ultrafast mobile connectivity, coverage, reliability and security across the port's main operational areas.

The network is planned to go live early next year in a UK and Ireland first.

It follows a trial of 5G technology by BT and Belfast Harbour last year.

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Paul Murnaghan, regional director for BT's Enterprise division in Northern Ireland, described the trial as a "powerful illustration" of how 5G-led technology can transform the port's operations.

"Today's deal with Belfast Harbour will make these benefits a reality, with the creation of a sophisticated digital ecosystem comprising of 5G as well as other emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Connected Vehicles," he said.

"This will act as a springboard for Belfast Harbour to achieve its ambition to be the world's best regional smart port and an innovation hub for the region.

"Ports are fundamental to the UK economy, and Belfast Harbour handles approximately two thirds of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade.

"With the rising demands on transport and logistics, and the growing need for operations to be safe, secure and sustainable, we're excited to work with Belfast Harbour as its technology partner, building 5G-led innovations to unlock the productivity benefits for the port and contribute to the region's green recovery ambitions."

Joe O'Neill, chief executive of Belfast Harbour added: "One of Belfast Harbour's key strategic ambitions is to become a smart port that engages creatively and effectively with customers, visitors and employees.

"Following a successful test programme last year, we are pleased to have engaged BT to bring 5G technology into Belfast Harbour and delighted that this private network is a first for the UK and Ireland.

"The smooth and efficient running of our Port logistics network relies on the accurate tracking and integration of data gathered from multiple sources.

"We believe the increased capabilities of 5G technology can have a beneficial effect on our operations, helping us for example to capture, process and interpret data in real time and giving insights that will speed decision making, better manage vehicle traffic through our Harbour Estate and improve productivity across our operations and services."

Belfast Harbour sees more than 1.75 million people and over half a million freight vehicles arrive and depart through the port each year, while 24 million tonnes of goods are managed and carried by ferries, container ships and general cargo vessels.

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