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5G Networks & Satellite Communications under China’s Belt & Road Initiative: Luxembourg as a local & global player for Automated Driving

On 16 October 2017, Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the China-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (CHINALUX) held the third event in their co-host event series on China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI)*, an intercontinental trade and infrastructure project focused on forging new economic corridors between China and Eurasia. Entitled “China’s Belt & Road Initiative - ICT: Automated Driving in Luxembourg with 5G networks and satellite communications”, the seminar focused on opportunities for the ICT sector in Luxembourg under the BRI. Specifically, the seminar emphasised the importance of telecom infrastructure as an essential element of the initiative, and took a specific look at the role of 5G networks and satellite communications for automated driving in Luxembourg. More than 110 participants attended the event.

In his welcoming speech, Jeannot Erpelding, Director of International Affairs at the Chamber of Commerce, outlined the key, recent economic and diplomatic engagements between China and Luxembourg. Mr. Erpelding noted the recent missions to China in September this year – the Chamber of Commerce Trade mission entitled “Belt and Road”, and the financial mission headed by Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna – and highlighted Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s visit to China in June this year, accompanied by Pierre Gramegna and Minister of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure François Bausch, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between China and Luxembourg. In particular, he noted that during the meeting between Premier Bettel and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Xi Jinping stressed both sides should deepen bilateral relationships under the framework of the BRI. It was within this context that Mr. Erpelding emphasised the important role of ICT under the BRI, specifically Luxembourg’s market-leading ICT sector, as well as introduced the strategic study on 'the third industrial revolution’. The study was initiated by the Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and IMS Luxembourg, with the support of the Ministry of the Economy, with an aim to make the existing economic model more sustainable and interconnected for future generations by collaborating with ICT, energy and transport as part of an intelligent network.

Following, Jean-Marie Spaus, coordinator of the IPCEI initiative on High Performance Computing (HPC) and Big Data enabled Applications at the Ministry of Economy Luxembourg, introduced HPC and big data in Europe, and outlined these developments with reference to the innovation strategy of Luxembourg. Mr. Spaus presented the aforementioned points within the context of the BRI, highlighting that the BRI will involve a vast network of railways, roads, pipelines, ports, as well as telecom infrastructure – herein which lies an important link to and opportunity for Luxembourg. He finished by noting that the realisation of the grand vision of the BRI will require close international collaboration across the public and private sectors.

Turning the focus to autonomous driving, Joost Ortjens, head of the Automotive Sector Development, Luxinnovation, provided context to the discussion that followed by providing an overview of the Luxembourg automotive industry, and noted recent developments towards internet and self-driving cars. Mr. Ortjens expressed that there are huge potential opportunities related to the automated driving sector in Luxembourg and the Greater-Region. He then explained the road map towards automated driving, introduced the objectives of the cross border digital testbed for automated vehicles, and outlined the Mobility Innovation Campus progress.

Paul Schockmel, Vice-President of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing, IEE, presented the mega trends for the future development of the global automotive industry. He began by outlining the challenges faced by the industry, from climate change, air quality, cost and profitability, and economies of scale, to changing consumer profiles, global population growth, and urbanisation. He then discussed how he foresees the development of automated driving, and the integral role of big data treatment due to autonomous vehicles creating huge data flow. He summarised by noting the industry will need to adjust to reflect growing global influences and developments, infuse advanced technologies, and establish new models for cooperation.

Karel Sotek, Product Line Manager, Huawei Technologies, introduced 5G solutions for automated driving. He began by describing recent developments in 5G evolution and use-cases, and explained that future autonomous driving related machine decisions request more and precise sensing information. Most interestingly, Mr. Sotek introduced the importance of global and local content provision. He also outlined the EU Commission “European Pre-Deployment C&AD Project”, presented several solid use-cases test results, and finished by presenting Huawei’s wireless roadmap for automated driving.

Alexander Geurtz, VP, Strategic Business Innovation, SES, followed by introducing satellite communication solutions for automated driving. Most importantly, Mr. Geurtz stated that automated driving presents a significant opportunity for satellite communications technology. Specifically, the unique features of satellite communication (ubiquity, mobility, broadcast and security) can have a tremendous benefit to automated driving.

Then, Claude Rischette, head of the frequencies department at Luxembourg's telecoms regulator ILR, delivered his presentation on spectrum related trends towards C2C-Communcations and 5G. Following presentations related to the ongoing 5G activities in Europe, Mr. Rischette emphasised that 5G will play a key role in the development of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). Furthermore, he noted that ITS is on the agenda of the next WRC-19 (World Radiocommunication Conference) in 2019. The objective of WRC-19 will be the global harmonisation of ITS Band that are already harmonised across the EU, US, Canada and China.

Peter Sodermans, Senior Adviser Digital Lëtzebuerg – a Luxembourg Government initiative, Coordination Infrastructure group, followed by moderating a panel of experts on the topic of “digital connectivity and automotive innovation: shaping a large-scale cross-border testbed for automated driving”. The panelists – Jean Schiltz, External Consultant Smart Mobility, Directorate Sustainable Technologies, Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy; Karel Sotek; Claude Rischette; and, Alexander Geurtz – drew on the aforementioned topics of Luxembourg’s innovation strategy, the opportunities arising through the cross-border testbed for automated driving in Luxembourg and the Greater-Region, as well as the 5G and satellite readiness plan to support automated driving.

After the panel discussion, Dirk Dewitte, President, CHINALUX, delivered a closing address in which he highlighted the role of telecom infrastructure under the BRI, noting how automated driving is an excellent example of the role of said technology globally, as well as locally for Luxembourg. Mr. Dewitte closed by inviting the seminar participants to join the upcoming seminar in the event series focusing on opportunities under the BRI for the Luxembourg finance sector, which will take place on 10 November.

The participants were then welcomed to a networking cocktail to conclude the event.


* Throughout the course of the China's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) Event Series (formerly referred to under the now less commonly used English translation of "One Belt One Road"), CHINALUX and the Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg have and will continue to endeavor to introduce and explore the opportunities for Luxembourg under the initiative, with events following the launch highlighting opportunities and experiences in the Luxembourg logistics, ICT and finance sectors. To hear about the upcoming events, please sign-up to the CHINALUX mailing list (china-lux.lu/enewsletter), and watch the events announcements from CHINALUX and Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for more details.


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