BT and Ericsson in multi-million-pound 5G partnership
TELECOMMUNICATIONS and technology firms BT and Ericsson have entered a new multi-million-pound joint partnership to provide commercial 5G private networks for the UK market – the first agreement of its kind.
The multi-year contract that will enable BT to sell the next generation mobile network technology products to businesses and organisations in sectors such as manufacturing, defence, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics.
The deal comes just after BT confirmed it was investing close to £100 million over the next three years in its ‘Division X' unit to accelerate the development of customer solutions which integrate emerging technologies like 5G, IoT, Edge Compute, Cloud and AI.
Private networks are wireless solutions that provide secure indoor and outdoor 5G cellular coverage, making them suitable for a range of uses - particularly in environments such as factories, education campuses and other large sites where security and ultra-low latency connectivity are important.
New innovative applications and IoT capabilities can be enabled through a private 5G network to improve productivity, optimise operations and drive cost savings, such as asset tracking, predictive maintenance, connected sensors, real-time data processing, automation and robotics.
5G private networks are predicted to grow at an average rate of 40 per cent a year between now and 2028, by which time the market will be worth $14bn (£10.7bn).
Both BT and Ericsson believe there is significant demand from UK businesses looking to take advantage of the benefits the new technology can provide.
Marc Overton, BT's managing director for Division X Enterprise, said: “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 hyper-connected spaces.
“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 have already worked together on several major projects incorporating private 5G networks, including Belfast Harbour, as they accelerate its ambition to become the world's best regional smart port.
The partners have installed a 5G private network across 35 acres of operational port, which is helping to drive operational efficiencies and accelerate its digital transformation through optimising processes across transport, logistics, supply chain and shipping, as well as boosting productivity through the smooth-running of the Port's operations.