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HOGENT and Citymesh join forces for the implementation of their own private 5G network, making the future happen

HOGENT and Citymesh join forces for the implementation of their own private 5G network, making the future happen
Published on
March 15, 2024

HOGENT and Citymesh join forces for the implementation of their own private 5G network, making the future happen

HOGENT and Citymesh join forces for the implementation of their own private 5G network, making the future a reality. HOGENT takes a significant step towards the future of education and research by deploying the latest wireless technology, 5G, and is the first university college in Belgium to deploy a 5G network widely to make an impact on various sectors. As a pioneer in digital innovation, HOGENT recognizes the crucial role of 5G in building a future-proof education and research landscape.

Published on
March 15, 2024

The 5GENIUS project, developed in collaboration with leading technology company Citymesh, promises to have a transformative impact on all parties involved. HOGENT is convinced that 5G offers tremendous value for students, researchers, employees, and external companies looking to benefit from the unprecedented opportunities that this technology brings. This has led to a joint submission of a project proposal to the European Commission, with HOGENT and Citymesh committed to realizing a private, campus-wide 5G network.

It is with pride that we announce that the 5GENIUS project is the only Belgian initiative approved for financial support in the second phase of the call.

The aim of this project is to develop and deploy a private 5G network spanning three campuses. This network will serve as the foundation for a thriving digital ecosystem supporting both education, research, and internal operations at HOGENT. It is important to note that this is not a limited laboratory implementation but a fully operational network that pushes the boundaries of innovation.

5GENIUS aims to leverage the specific benefits of 5G technology, such as network slicing and low latency, to explore and implement new and innovative digital services and applications at Proefhoeve Bottelare, campus Vesalius, and Schoonmeersen. The scope of these applications encompasses various areas such as healthcare, agriculture, logistics, mobility, and industry.

By joining forces with Citymesh, HOGENT strengthens its position as a leader in digital innovation. The 5GENIUS project not only promises to push the boundaries of technological advancement but will also contribute to addressing societal challenges through advanced digital solutions.

5G: More Than Just 'Better Wi-Fi'

5G isn't merely about better, more reliable, and faster Wi-Fi. The private 5G network that HOGENT, in collaboration with Citymesh, will deploy doesn't replace Wi-Fi; rather, it forms a unique network that can be utilized for the aforementioned applications.

Wi-Fi can be likened to a highway with two lanes: there are entrances and exits, and anyone can access it. When too many cars enter the highway simultaneously, traffic slows down or comes to a standstill. The same applies to a Wi-Fi network.

With a private 5G network, the scenario changes. To continue with the highway metaphor, the private 5G network is a separate highway with multiple lanes, where the entrances have barriers, and you decide how many and which cars can access it. Getting stuck in traffic becomes incredibly difficult this way.

From a more technical standpoint, 5G focuses on three major service categories concerning connectivity requirements:

  • URLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication): This targets communication services that need to be extremely reliable with very low latency. This is particularly crucial for applications requiring critical control, such as industrial automation, medical applications, and self-driving vehicles — areas where HOGENT, with programs like electromechanics, applied computer science, and medical technology, heavily invests.
  • eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband): This aims to provide very high data speeds and capacity to support a wide range of applications, including high-quality streaming, virtual reality, online gaming, and more. The possibilities are vast. For instance, HOGENT can establish a lab where real situations can be simulated through VR and AR, such as emergencies in factories and hospitals in sectors like chemistry and healthcare.
  • mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications): This focuses on supporting a large number of devices that sporadically transmit and receive small amounts of data, such as IoT devices (Internet of Things). Healthcare programs aim to heavily utilize this.

Moreover, a private 5G network is highly secure because it's a closed environment. Security has been a central focus from the outset in this modern form of wireless communication. Encryption is embedded in the standard, making hacking almost entirely impossible.

Smart Farming

First and foremost, 5G offers significant advantages in contexts where Wi-Fi is impractical. In smart farming, Wi-Fi isn't suitable due to limited coverage, especially in open fields or extensive agricultural areas, interference, energy consumption, and particularly the significant infrastructure investment, such as installing access points and cabling over long distances.

This is much less the case with 5G, making it highly valuable in locations with extensive outdoor activities, like HOGENT's Proefhoeve Bottelare. The research farm conducts groundbreaking research in crop protection and sustainable agriculture and serves as a playground for HOGENT's AgroFoodNature research center and research groups from Ghent University.

It's no coincidence that this is one of the locations where HOGENT will deploy a 5G network. Sensor-based applications in the fields, for instance, measuring soil drought or more targeted use of chemical crop protection products, which can be reduced as a result, are impossible to achieve with a Wi-Fi network due to the required infrastructure not being scalable. 5G makes this much easier.

"A 5G network ensures that Proefhoeve Bottelare not only has the most advanced sensors and technology but can also fully embrace the precision agriculture of the future where 'smart data usage' is essential," says researcher Kevin Dewitte (Ghent University/HOGENT). "And of course, this is also a huge asset in terms of education: we can train our students in smart farming. It also opens up an opportunity to offer a new type of service by supporting startups in integrating sensors into agriculture."

Minister of Telecommunications, Petra De Sutter: "In our ideal world, digital innovation goes hand in hand with increased sustainability, the so-called 'twin transition.' This project proves that that ideal world is within reach. After all, 5G provides for greener agriculture: one with fewer pesticides and smarter use of water, among other things. Technological innovation thus helps in the fight against climate change and makes the ecological choice the easiest one. We must continue to invest so that together we can achieve such impressive innovations that protect our planet and our health.


Thanks to 5G, drones with sensors can be deployed more easily. Drones are increasingly used in surveying and geometry. The land surveying bachelor's program is located in Building P on the Schoonmeersen campus, where laboratories and workshops for education and research are also located, relying on robotics, energy technology, industrial automation, CAD-CAM, 3D prototyping, 3D scanning, and more. The high-speed connectivity of 5G facilitates more efficient and effective data transfer, crucial for complex projects and experiments in these laboratories.

Of course, 5G also offers opportunities for the IT management and the applied computer science program, as well as other programs like supply chain management, all located in Building B of the Schoonmeersen campus.


5G coverage is also provided on the Vesalius campus. There, the network can support the 360° Care and Welfare research center to develop research and educational expertise in eHealth or medical informatics.


The private 5G network being established by HOGENT and Citymesh serves not only as a communication system for the campus but also as a means to provide companies and organizations with accessible exposure to 5G technology. This is achieved through HOGENT's E-lab, which aims to connect entrepreneurs and organizations with teachers, researchers, and student entrepreneurs.

The installation of the private 5G network will take about three years. In the meantime, brainstorming and information sessions will be organized to explain the possibilities of 5G and involve as many people as possible, addressing the needs of potential users.

This project is co-funded by the Connecting Europe Facility programme (CEF Digital).