Conceived as the technology of the future in the communications sector, 5G connectivity will cause a big change in data and information transmission and in the connection between electronic devices. Telefónica and 5G Barcelona have created The Thinx, the 5G technology open laboratory, located in Pier01 of Barcelona Tech City. This space will allow startups, pymes and corporations, to analyse and test the functioning of their products and their viability in 5G connectivity. Barcelona Tech City understands the initiative as an opportunity to inform about the importance that the 5G technology has for the city and to boost the changes that its application has in communications.
Eduard Martín, Director of MWCapital Barcelona’s 5G Programme and CEO at 5G Barcelona; and Bruno Vilarasau, Director Digital Services and Public Sector at Telefónica, explain which are the objectives of this initiative and what it provides to the technological ecosystem of Barcelona.
Telefónica is a digital telco with a presence in 22 countries and more than 360 million clients. Telefónica is also one of the leading companies in terms of IoT and Gartner Group places us in the Magic Quadrant as leaders in this sector. We currently have more than 10 million connected devices under our management in a system that we offer ourselves. In addition, we have agreements with more than 500 partners in this space of IoT and roaming agreements with 700 companies. Well-known customers include Nespresso, Tesla and Eurocard who rely on our IoT capabilities to advance their device connectivity needs.
Mobile World Capital Barcelona is a public-private foundation that was created alongside the Mobile World Congress in the city of Barcelona and which constantly works to promote and bring about the digital transformation of society from Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain. Currently, we have 4 programmes aimed at these tasks: first one, focuses on innovation and its development and the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem; second one focuses on the development of digital talent; the third one, which is very important, is aimed at promoting the new digital society and all the problems it entails, the ethics of new technologies, etc. And, of course, finally, there’s a technological programme dedicated to the consolidation of 5G technology as one of the technologies of the future that will enable the development of this digital society.
WHAT IS THE THINX l 5G BARCELONA?
The Thinx is one of the initiatives of the 5G Barcelona alliance that allows us to accelerate the transformation processes that 5G technology entails with respect to companies. Through The Thinx, which is one of the initiatives that we are most excited about, we make it possible for companies to test their products with the corresponding technological elements, and to analyse the development of these products in order to then launch them or to develop new services that may be of use to society. Therefore, the open laboratory concept is one of the concepts used and promoted by the 5G Barcelona alliance to position the city and our country among the most developed countries within this new technology.
At Telefónica we are working to open the mind, the perception of the possibilities that come with connecting devices to the network. And as part of this great initiative, to connect and allow more elements to be connected, we have created this lab in partnership with the 5G Barcelona project. The Thinx has access to a network with the latest capabilities that incorporates each of the new improvements involved in the path to 5G.
Especially important currently are narrowband IoT and LTM. In this lab, with its instruments, it is possible to simulate scenarios of environmental coverage and battery consumption that are really valid for testing how a device is going to be like in the field. In addition, the quality of the network and of the equipment allows devices to be standardized for future needs. In this work that we are doing together, it is important to know that every company, whether big, small or a start-up, whether related to software or to hardware, has free access to perform their tests and has the necessary technical support to help them in this testing process.
HOW DOES THE THINX LAB l 5G BARCELONA BENEFIT THE BARCELONA ECOSYSTEM?
At Telefónica we have a long tradition of open innovation. We started incorporating this methodology right from when the first R&D labs were set up. With the creation of Wayra, we have further demonstrated that it is a system that works very well. For us, creating a lab in Barcelona is important because it is here that we really find a very important ecosystem and activity for the creation of new companies, particularly with a technological focus.
Participating in the 5G laboratory allows these companies that are doing IoT testing or testing with other more advanced communications, to contact Telefónica and see if there is any possibility of working together. And of all the places prepared to do this, it’s more important to do it here, at Pier01 of Barcelona Tech City, given that it is perhaps the most important place for the creation of new companies in Southern Europe.
It is clear that innovation is a process: a process that goes from creativity to the formation of companies, and in between there are quite a few phases. Having all the elements that can contribute to all these phases in the process of innovation – open innovation, of course – and using the Quadruple Helix (civil society, business, academia and administration,) offers a lot of possibilities, because all the parts are on the table. For example, in the case of The Thinx within Barcelona Tech City, it is very important to bring together the knowledge and depths of a company, such as Telefónica. In this case, start-ups, the entrepreneurs who are in the creative phase and the company formation phase, can have access to information on products that will really be useful later to consolidate the company. Barcelona Tech City’s ecosystem is fantastic for this process, as it offers us contact with creativity, contact with companies and collaboration with large companies like Telefónica to achieve this.