By James Blackman
Swedish operator Telenor has tied-up with country-mate Ericsson to sell the vendor’s pre-packed private LTE and 5G to factories and warehouses. It is the first operator to sign as a reseller of the Industry 4.0 bundle –announced a year ago.
Transport company Scania, another Swedish firm, has already implemented the package, dubbed Ericsson Industry Connect, at its smart production lab in the industrial city of Södertälje, about 30 kilometres southwest of Stockholm.
The Industry Connect solution (see promo video below), initially for private LTE, offers a pathway to 5G. It affords information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) professional with no prior experience of cellular network operations an “easy-to-use… network management experience”, according to Ericsson.
Ericsson said the offer is “purpose-built for industrial environments”, citing security, reliability, and predictability as key features of industrial-versions of LTE and 5G, enhanced further in dedicated networking setups, whether in factory-owned spectrum, locally-licensed shared spectrum, or localized tranches or ‘slices’ of operator-owned spectrum, .
As a reseller partner, Telenor will offer the private cellular bundle to its own industrial partners to use with localized access to its own licensed spectrum, and also, potentially, within licence-free and shared bands.
The package is also available to independent software vendors, system integrators, and device partners to offer software, services, and devices “as part of the Industry 4.0 ecosystem”, the vendor noted.
It bundles Ericsson’s so-called Radio Dot micro-cells, network controllers and management suite, and SIM provisioning software. A decent spec sheet is available here.
The company is pitching, directly and indirectly, to factory and warehouse operatives, interested in wireless connectivity to deploy and manage sensor-heavy digital twin inspections, mobility for human machine interface (HMI) instructions for workers, collision avoidance and remote control for autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), and collaborative robotics for automated operations.
Private LTE networks can go live within 24 hours of installation and setup, it said, with an easy upgrade path to 5G, as massive machine-type (mMTC) and ultra-reliable low-latency (URLLC) standalone versions become available in the next couple of years. Ericsson said Industry Connect does away with handoffs between access points, and keeps data on premises, under lock and key.
Chief executive at Telenor Sweden, Kaaren Hilsen said: “The manufacturing industry is one of the first to truly reap the benefits of 5G, and this partnership extends our portfolio with a solution that allows Telenor Sweden to capture new opportunities in industrial verticals and improve business outcomes for our customers.”
Senior vice president and head of technologies and new businesses at Ericsson, Åsa Tamsons said: “Industry 4.0 needs secure, reliable, wireless connectivity. By leveraging our 4G and 5G capabilities and adopting Ericsson Industry Connect, Telenor Sweden can now offer its industrial customers a unique cellular connectivity solution that increases efficiency and productivity for the smart factories of the future.”
Last week, a note in the latest quarterlies from rival firm Nokia said the Finnish vendor signed supply deals for 40 private networks in the three months to the end of 2019, taking its total private networking contracts to around 130.
A report by Mobile Experts predicts the market for private LTE and 5G will spiral to about $10 billion in 2025, at a rate of around 20 per cent compound growth per year. The company said demand in the oil and gas, mining, utilities, transportation, government, and manufacturing industries will drive the growth.