Ericsson, BT ink deal to provide private 5G networks in the UK

Private networks enable new applications and IoT capabilities such as asset tracking, predictive maintenance and connected sensors

BT and Ericsson announced a new partnership to provide commercial 5G private networks for the UK market, the latter said in a release.

The two companies have signed a multi-year contract that will enable BT to sell next-generation mobile network technology products to businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, defense, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics.

 “This ground-breaking agreement with BT means we are together taking a role in ensuring 5G has a transformative impact for the UK. The high quality, fast and secure connectivity provided by Ericsson Private 5G can help organizations make all-important efficiency gains that can create safer, more productive, and sustainable business operations and help the country build global leaders in the industries and technologies of the future,” said Katherine Ainley, CEO Ericsson UK & Ireland.

Ericsson said that its private network solution provides indoor and outdoor 5G cellular coverage, making it suitable for environments such as factories, education campuses and other large sites. The Swedish vendor also noted that private networks also enable new applications and IoT capabilities such as asset tracking, predictive maintenance, connected sensors, real-time data processing, automation and robotics.

Marc Overton, managing director of BT’s Division X, part of its Enterprise business, said: “5G private networks will also support smart factory processes and the advancement of Industry 4.0 which can realize significant cost savings and efficiencies for manufacturers. Unlike a public network, a private 5G network can be configured to a specific business’s needs, as well as by individual site or location. They also provide the foundation to overlay other innovative technologies such as IoT, AI, VR and AR, opening up a multitude of possibilities.”

BT and Ericsson said they have already worked together on several major projects incorporating private 5G networks, including Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland.

The partners have installed a 5G private network across 35 acres of operational port. The vendor noted that this deployment is helping to drive operational efficiencies and accelerate the Port’s digital transformation through optimizing processes across transport, logistics, supply chain and shipping.

The partnership is also exploring how 5G and other emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Connected Autonomous Vehicles can be used together to enhance public safety, physical security and address climate change across the Port and other parts of Belfast City.

Mike Dawson, corporate services director, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, said: “Throughout 2021 and to the end of 2022, we will have completed the implementation of both public and private 5G networks. These are the foundation for several Smart and Green port initiatives, including; CCTV cameras, air quality monitors, drones, MiFi units to maximize operational efficiencies and a digital twin. The technologies have supported our data collection on the movement of people and things through our Road Traffic Screens, Wayfinding App and a Community App for Traffic.”

In related news, Ericsson announced plans to hire 250 people at its Irish Research and Development Center in Athlone to support the company’s ongoing development of its global 5G portfolio.

The vendor said that new employees will be added over the next three years.

Ericsson has had a Research and Development facility in Athlone since 1979. The Athlone center, which is the global R&D headquarters of Ericsson Digital Services OSS (Operations Support Systems), currently employs 1,200 people developing its OSS and Cloud RAN portfolio. Ericsson employs an additional 200 at its Dublin base.