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Helsinki holds design contest for 5G base stations

As wireless broadband licences are auctioned and next-gen networks are being developed, Helsinki is holding a design contest for 5G base stations in the city.

Ouluun rakennetaan Suomen ensimmäinen 5G verkko VTT:n ja yliopiston yhteistyönä 2015.
File photo. Image: Risto Degerman / Yle

As 5G networks are being developed across Finland, the city of Helsinki is holding a design contest to create suitable-looking base stations.

The 5G network, while faster, requires more transmitter-receiver stations than 4G or earlier networks do, so the units will likely be much more visible in Helsinki's urban environment than their predecessors.

The design contest is organised by the city of Helsinki, telecom firm Elisa, networking company Nokia and design organisation Ornamo Art and Design.

Contest organisers said they are looking for a "standard model design" for 5G base stations, which are "unique and easily scalable models for base stations" in Helsinki.

The top three design creators, to be chosen by a jury, will receive cash prizes totalling 35,000 euros. The first place winner will win 20,000 euros, the runner-up winner will receive 10,000 euros and the third place contestant will take home 5,000 euros. The contest, which started on Wednesday, will accept submissions through 18 November.

The design, according to Ornamo, "may consist of a protective casing only, which must be possible to integrate with the existing infrastructure as is (e.g., lighting columns, bus stops or walls of buildings) but the station may also consist of a protective casing with/on a pedestal."

"As a product, the base station is expected to be refined design that smoothly fits in a variety of environments and takes into consideration the needs of usage and technology as well as the user experience. The user experience is composed of not only interaction with users but also the ease of maintenance and installation," the Ornamo statement reads.

5G band licence auction starts

Finnish regulators opened an auction to sell three electronic communication licences for the 3.5GHz spectrum on Wednesday.

The 3.5GHz band, or more precisely 3410–3800 MHz, is well suited for the construction of the first 5G networks, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The starting price for the frequency licenses depends on the specific frequency band and its properties, but prices will start at 21-23 million euros apiece.

Three licences will be auctioned off Wednesday, with each buyer will be limited to one licence apiece.

Registration for the auction opened in July, but information on who is participating is not public, according to the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (Ficora), the agency in charge of the auction.

According to the authority, 5G is the next-generation of mobile communications tech, which will help make wireless connections faster and more reliable.

The eventual rollout of 5G services is expected to bring new services and business opportunities to Finland's transport and industrial sectors.

Once the licenses for the frequencies are granted, licence holders will be able to use them across mainland Finland from the start of 2019.

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