Telecommunications giant BT has partnered with Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson to provide commercial 5G private networks to businesses in the UK.
The multi-million-pound deal will combine BT’s converged fixed and mobile network building expertise with Ericsson’s 5G network technology, resulting in an off the shelf offering for businesses.
The arrangement, which is the first of its kind, is being marketed to companies in sectors including manufacturing, defence, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics.
“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,” said Marc Overton, managing director, BT’s Division X.
The two companies have already implemented private 5G networks, including one at Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland.
In Belfast, the 5G technology is being used for teleoperation of plant machinery, remote maintenance through virtual reality and drone surveillance.
The latest generation of cellular technology has been touted as a key enabler for industry 4.0 technologies due to 5G’s lower latency and higher quality networks.
“The high quality, fast and secure connectivity provided by Ericsson Private 5G can help organisations 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.
This follows BT’s three year £100m investment into its Division X unit to speed up customer solutions that incorporate new technologies, such as 5G and AI.
It comes as the UK continues to roll out commercial 5G, three years after EE switched on the country’s first commercial 5G network.
Last December, the UK government said it will phase out 2G and 3G mobile networks by 2033 to speed up the rollout of 5G.
It is the latest partnership from BT, with the telecoms firm and Jaguar recently working with Silicon Valley-headquartered investor Plug and Play on its UK launch.
BT has also become more active on the investment front, signing a £30m deal with tech freelancer company Distributed, which gives businesses access to freelance software developers.