Data is an essential component of all modern operations. It's completely normal for us to be able to trace a package we have ordered online right to our door. Ports are a tangled web of goods, people, ship movements and ever-changing conditions (including the weather and the tides, to name but a few). All of these elements can be mapped out as mathematical data, and in turn, these numbers are fed into computers. This connectivity is what keeps everything running smoothly. The Port of Zeebrugge was on the hunt for a futureproof solution. "Fibreglass wasn't an option", says ICT manager Peter Merlevede. "Obtaining all of the necessary approvals and permits would have taken too much time. And we would have had to dig up roads and quays to install the infrastructure."
"Zeebrugge wanted its network not only to be secure, reliable and fully independent, but also as fast as it could possibly be", says Peter Merlevede. The port's solution? Construct its own private 5G network. Zeebrugge joined forces with Nokia and Oostkamp-based company CityMesh to build an ultra-fast wireless network. "With a response time of 1 millisecond, the private 5G network beats the human reaction time of 200 milliseconds hands down. A self-driving car will be able to brake much faster than it would with a human driver behind the wheel", says the ICT manager.