Meet ICT4CART: the Interview Series, 10th edition

  • Meet WINDTRE: the company

WINDTRE, company led by Jeffrey Hedberg, is at the top of the mobile market in Italy and among the main alternative operators in the fixed market. The company is a player of reference in fixed-mobile integration and in developing new generation fibre optics networks, thanks also to the agreement with Open Fibre for the deployment of ultra-broadband in Italy. In the mobile market, WINDTRE has invested significantly in the process of consolidating its network, considered ‘Top Quality’ as tested by international consulting and engineering solutions companies. With around 20,000 ‘5G ready’ transmission sites, WINDTRE network will rapidly implement fifth-generation standards. Furthermore, it ensures a highly reliable voice service and it can support the most innovative ICT services, an advantage for families and businesses. The Company is part of the CK Hutchison Holdings Limited group, the sole shareholder of WINDTRE.

  • WINDTRE in ICT4CART: what is your role?

ICT4CART is providing an ICT infrastructure to enable the transition towards road transport automation. It adopts a hybrid communication approach where all the major wireless technologies, i.e. cellular, ITS G5 and LTE-V, 5G are integrated under a flexible “sliced” network architecture. WINDTRE is enabling the transition to higher levels of automation providing innovative services based on edge computing capabilities, thus creating new business opportunities based on connectivity and cloud hybrid network architecture according to a secure communication paradigm .

WINDTRE is involved in the Italian proof of concept in different areas: Verona (urban), in Trento (highway) and with cross border scenarios where focus is on the implementation of the architecture and the development of use cases. WINDTRE provides access to networks (both in 4G and 5G technology) with MEC server capabilities. This is evident in the infrastructures of the node of Verona, which allows the processing and the application of intelligence at edge level to move closer to the end user.

  • What are the preconditions to provide a versatile connected infrastructure and how does this support the evolution towards autonomous driving?

WINDTRE is very confident that Fiber, 4G/ 5G are the best technologies that can help enhance operations in production, management, and control system iteration, as well as the integration of OT&IT systems enabled by the advanced features of high bandwidth, reliability, low latency and mobility. Therefore, the main challenge is moving towards these important factors to take advantage of new technologies including 5G edge computing, network slicing, and supporting the evolution of this sector. By using different connectivity, autonomous vehicles will be able to manage the information conveyed to it through the infrastructures capable of supporting and guiding it in the most critical situations, for example in urban traffic where the presence of obstacles and blind spots are very high. All these elements will create a more collaborative and more efficient mobility management, which will also reduce latency times, thanks to the cooperation between infrastructure and vehicle system .

  • How can seamless cross-border connected infrastructure be ensured? What are the obstacles and how could they be overcome?

The best way to guarantee a cross-border connected infrastructure is to always have a connected network in order to avoid communication interruptions when roaming occurs. In this way, vehicles can effectively manage data exchanges anywhere.

Different solutions should be implemented to prevent interruption (for example optimised vehicle connection to different countries' communication infrastructures to ensure a redundancy of signals at the border); it is important to find a global solution which can address the obstacles faced by European countries when it comes to cross-border connected infrastructure (e.g. integration with the Copernicus constellation) .

  • According to your analysis, how will the market structure develop?

According to our analysis some services will develop once connectivity is guaranteed. The structure of the market is complex: it could be important to operate according to a public-private investment partnerships model. In the ICT4CART project, WINDTRE is cooperating to study possible business models that could become available for delivering the expected value.

  • From WINDTRE’s point of view, what potential impact could COVID-19 have on further research and development and/or future actions of connected and autonomous vehicle technology?

The COVID-19 has changed the behaviour and the organisational system of companies. WIND TRE has adopted a digital approach to overcome the distances between people, making operational aspects safer as well. The same approach has been followed in the ICT4CART project.

  • Anything else you would like to mention or highlight

WINDTRE believes that technological innovation, new paradigms and new opportunities for a more sustainable, responsible, connected and inclusive life are fundamental in dealing with global changes and managing different sectors’ digital revolution.