Preparations for a “living lab” to test 5G technology in Montreal will start this summer.


Updated: June 17, 2019


The city of Montreal is planning a pilot project to get ready for fifth-generation (5G) cellular technology, the executive committee member responsible for the smart city announced Monday.

Preparations for a “living lab” to test 5G technology will start this summer, François Croteau said at a press conference at city hall. Starting this fall, the city and private-sector partners will install about 200 antennas in the downtown core, he said.

Fifth-generation technology will greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks and enable transmission of a much greater amount of data. It will be used for a range of applications, including self-driving cars, health-care treatments from remote locations and virtual reality (VR).

The current 4G phones will not be compatible with 5G. However, 5G will not replace 4G, but, rather, will complement it, Croteau said.

The antennas, about the size of a desktop computer, are small enough to be installed atop lampposts or traffic lights and only cover a small geographic area. The 200 antennas will be installed in an area stretching from Guy St. to St-Laurent Blvd. and from Sherbrooke St. W. to Notre-Dame St. W., Croteau said.

New York City is closely following Montreal’s living lab, whose goals are to ensure that 5G is deployed as quickly and efficiently as possible, and also to investigate whether there is any truth to claims of adverse health effects from 5G, he said.

The pilot project, partly subsidized by the Quebec Union of Municipalities, will allow high-tech startups and other companies to test applications, he said.

Preparatory work for the pilot will begin this summer. Installation of the antennas will begin in the fall, and the living lab will take shape in 2020.

The city will issue a call for tenders to consulting firms to analyze public and private investment options and draw up a financial plan.

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