BT inks deal with Ericsson to provide commercial private 5G networks

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BT has inked a multi-million pound deal with Ericsson to provide commercial private 5G networks in the UK.

The agreement – the first of its kind in the UK – will combine BT’s expertise in building converged fixed and mobile networks with Ericsson’s 5G network technology and enterprise solutions.

Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson UK & Ireland, said:

“This groundbreaking agreement with BT means we are together taking a leading 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 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.”

5G private networks are expected to grow at an average rate of 40 percent per year between 2021 and 2028, by which time the market will be worth $14bn (£10.7bn).

Earlier this month, BT announced it will invest £100 million over the next three years in its ‘Division X’ unit. Division X aims to accelerate the digital transformations of enterprises using emerging technologies like 5G, AI, edge computing, and the IoT.

Marc Overton, BT’s Managing Director for Division X, Enterprise, commented:

“This UK-first we have signed with Ericsson is a huge milestone and will play a major role in enabling businesses’ transformation, ushering in a new era of hyperconnected 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, to offer a pioneering new proposition that will be attractive to many industries. 5G private networks will also support smart factory processes and the advancement of Industry 4.0 which can realise 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.”

The partners have already worked on several projects which make use of private 5G networks.

One project was to convert Belfast Harbour into a smart port. Ericsson and BT installed a private 5G network across 35 acres of the port to help deliver operational efficiencies and accelerate its digital transformation.

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 maximise 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.”

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Ericsson in Europe.

Just yesterday, Ericsson announced that it’s hiring a further 250 people at its R&D centre in Athlone, Ireland to work on projects that will support 5G growth. Earlier in the month, Ericsson announced a partnership with Deutsche Telekom to trial sustainable 5G sites.

(Image Credit: Matt Mackey / Press Eye Picture)

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