BT and Ericsson in multi-million-pound deal to work together on customised, private 5G networks for large sites such as education campuses and factories
The deal relies on Ericsson’s Private 5G offering that creates networks for environments such as factories, education campuses and other large sites that can benefit from the secure, low-latency networks.
The networks can make use of connected “Internet of Things” devices and other innovations for asset tracking, predictive maintenance, connected sensors, real-time data processing, automation and robotics.
The companies have already worked together to create a private 5G network for Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland.
They cited figures from MarketResearch.com predicting that private 5G networks would grow at an average rate of 40 percent per year from 2021 to 2028 into a $14 billion (£10.7bn) market.
Marc Overton, managing director of BT’s Enterprise Division X, said the deal would allow for the creation of “hyper-connected spaces”.
“We have combined our skill and expertise at building converged fixed and mobile networks with Ericsson’s leading, sustainable and secure 5G network equipment,” he said.
Overton said private high-speed networks would support smart factory processes and industrial techniques that could realise significant cost savings for manufacturers.
“Unlike a public network, a private 5G network can be configured to a specific business’ needs, as well as by individual site or location,” he said.
“They also provide the foundation to overlay other innovative technologies such as IoT, AI, VR and AR, opening up a multitude of possibilities.”
Katherine Ainley, chief executive of Ericsson UK & Ireland, said the deal could help create “safer, more productive, and sustainable business operations” for organisations.
The companies said they have already worked on several major projects involving private 5G networks, including Belfast Harbour, where a 5G network was installed covering 35 acres of operational port.
The network optimises processes across transport, logistics, supply chain and shipping and aids in the smooth running of the port’s operations, they said.
The companies are also exploring how 5G and other technologies such as AI, IoT and connected autonomous vehicles can be used to improve public safety and physical security and to address climate change issues in the port and other parts of Belfast.