Business 29/06/2021

Catalan Government aims to become "world capital of 5G"

Generalitat brings back a project of remote driving for vehicles having suffered an accident

2 min
The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and the vice-president, Jordi Puigneró, at the presentation of the 5G connected driving system.

L'Hospitalet de LlobregatThe pandemic also put on hold the presentation of some of the projects linked to 5G that the Catalan Government was to announce at the cancelled Mobile World Congress (MWC) in 2020. The first masked edition of the congress has contributed, therefore, to recover some of the projects with which the Generalitat wants to become "world capital" of this technology. President Pere Aragonès made it explicit on Monday during his visit to the Catalan stand at the fair, where he stated that the fifth generation of mobile networks "is already a reality".

In fact, 5G has become one of the main areas of debate this week at MWC. It will be closely linked to the future of mobility and the Government has also chosen the automotive sector to explain what changes this technology will bring for citizens. The pilot project has been staged at the Fira pavilion through a demonstration: Albert is driving along the C-58 and passes by a fire in an industrial estate that begins to fill his vehicle with smoke. He coughs, his eyes itch and he can't drive safely, so he presses a button that alerts road control centre of the incident. An operator asks him how he is and through the 5G connection takes control of the car's steering wheel to drive it to a safe area.

This case study is an example of what the Government of Catalonia intends to deploy through the Mediterranean 5G Corridor. The Government wants to test connected and autonomous mobility services in some sections of the AP-7 motorway and the railway between Figueres and Perpignan. "This infrastructure will be the catalyst for the Catalan digital hub and will generate new companies and value-added jobs linked to future technologies such as artificial intelligence", the government insists. The vice-president and Minister for Digital Policies, Jordi Puigneró, has emphasised that 5G will not only psuh "mobility of the 21st century", but it will also generate "many quality jobs".

Institutional inauguration

Both Aragonès and Puigneró celebrated the return of the MWC after a year's absence due to the pandemic and claimed the event was great for the country's "brand", placing Catalonia in the world. Earlier, King Felipe VI; the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez; the ministers Nadia Calviño and Reyes Maroto; the CEO of GSMA, John Hoffman; and the president of Fira de Barcelona, Pau Relat also participated in the opening ceremony. Even so, the government representatives have avoided a photograph with the monarch, with whom they have only coincided in the official visit to some stands of local companies.

The MWC has started this Monday with some strong anticovid measures and a device of booths to carry out antigen tests to attendees. Visitors had to submit a negative test every 72 hours to enter the venue and wear an FPP2 mask. In fact, some congress attendees who wore the typical corporate models had to buy new approved ones to be able to access the exhibition halls. The change of dates forced by the pandemic (the congress is always held in February, but now exceptionally in June) has meant that on this first day of the fair there have been more T-shirts and shorts than usual. The organisers expect that this year between 25,000 and 35,000 people will attend the event, a far cry from the 109,000 of 2019.