JET Engineering System Solutions has deployed a floating 5G base station off the UK coast of Dorset.

The buoy, named JET-4 Babel, is a floating 5G base station, transmitting coverage for devices to connect to and extending the distance from the shore that a 5G signal can be accessed.

The deployment demonstrated the floating base station's connectivity by establishing a 5G connection between JET-4 Babel and JET-3 Arial, a buoyant underwater camera, for real-time live streaming. The network is expected to be able to extend for miles off-shore while providing high-bandwidth and high-speed delivery.

The floating base station will also provide a platform for data collection and live streaming to users elsewhere, either as raw data or through a user-friendly dashboard.

JET-4 Babel – JET Engineering

“This signifies a great technology milestone for JET, having taken the buoy-to-buoy wireless communications from the lab to the ocean,” said James Thomas, CEO of JET Engineering. “But more importantly we have unlocked a whole host of possibilities for users and service providers to save costs, improve efficiencies, and make their everyday work easier.

The technology on board Babel, which was sped up to meet the demand of the offshore wind sector, including the development of the base station platform was funded by the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Launch Academy.

Claire Canning, OWGP program manager, said: “We are thrilled to be working with JET and supporting this game-changing project. Not only will this drive a step-change in growth for the company, but 5G connectivity at sea will completely transform offshore wind operations, improving both efficiency and operator safety.”

The project’s funding was also supported by DCMS via the 5G RuralDorset project which also contributed to the previous deployment of Arial. Research conducted by 5G RuralDorset had previously found that 5G was necessary to provide essential safety, environmental, and efficiency considerations for those living in the local isolated areas and in off-shore settings.

Councillor Jill Haynes, cabinet member for Corporate Development and Transformation for Dorset Council which leads the 5G RuralDorset project, said: “It’s great to see the concept of 5G at sea become a reality and we’re proud to have worked closely with JET to get the buoys to this important milestone. 5G connectivity will play an important role in ensuring safety at sea, as well as presenting unique commercial opportunities for all parties.”

Out-of-the-box ideas for 5G networks have been showing up recently. Last month, AT&T introduced a drone-transmitted 5G network called the Flying COW. Like the JET-4 Babel, the Flying COW is helping to bring 5G to the more remote and rural locations, and is also sometimes used to provide a temporary connection to provide LTE coverage to customers during big events, such as the Super Bowl and disasters.

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