The LTE network will allow DT’s partner, HHLA Sky, to control and monitor a fleet of drones operating across the port from a single control centre

Today, Deutsche Telekom has announced a new partnership with HHLA Sky, a subsidiary of logistics company Hamburger Hafen und Logistik, to build a campus network at the Port Of Hamburg for use in controlling industrial drones. 

HHLA sky intends to use this network to control and monitor drones used to inspect container gantry cranes and asphalt surfaces in an effort to increase port safety. The drones will fly to heights of around 100m, cover an area of around three square kilometres, and be controlled remotely from a single control room.

Around 100 drones can be operated simultaneously, all flying beyond the line of sight of the remote pilots.

For now, the network will operate the drones on 4G, with plans to upgrade to 5G technology in the near future.

"With the campus network, we can control almost any number of drones even more safely through a sensitive area. In addition, together with Telekom we can develop the entire system, i.e. drone and control centre, much faster," explained Matthias Gronstedt, Managing Director HHLA Sky. "Controlling a fleet of industrial drones is demanding. For this we need continuous network coverage, high availability, guaranteed bandwidth, and low latency. The campus network, soon with 5G, forms the basis for this." 

The Port of Hamburg is the third largest container port in Europe, handling millions of tons of cargo every year. It is hoped that the drones will not only improve safety at the port, but also reduce the number of in-person engineer deployments to solve issues and improve efficiency.

The use of drones for remote inspections is becoming increasingly attractive for various industries around the world and is an exciting prospect for operators in conjunction with private networks. Last year, Rakuten Mobile announced that it was using drones connected to its 4G network to inspect telecoms infrastructure. Similarly, just two months ago, Citymesh announced that it was deploying a private 5G network at Brussels Airport, with drones being deployed to inspect aircraft. 


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