Ericsson packages 5G private network suite

Ericsson already has private 5G network deployments under its belt and now is offering a highly packaged private network suite.

The Swedish vendor unveiled the Ericsson Private 5G offering this week.  Although the moniker focuses on 5G, and standalone (SA) is available, 4G LTE is also part of the package. It offers a complete 4G/5G network running on a single server, according to an Ericsson spokesperson.

The main go-to-market model will be through carrier partners, the spokesperson said. “In some markets with Industry spectrum there might be exceptions to this.”

In some places, like Japan, the government has allocated spectrum licenses for private (or local) 5G networks. In the U.S. enterprises and other users have access to the shared Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) with general authorized access (GAA) – or priority access licenses for those who participated in the FCC auction. Germany in 2019 allocated local spectrum in the 3.7-3.8 GHz range for use by industries.

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Competitor Nokia has put its own an emphasis on private network offerings and focused on enterprises more directly than Ericsson, but still works with carriers in some cases. Verizon uses Nokia’s platform in its 5G private offering for international customers. Samsung, meanwhile, recently announced a deal to implement a private 5G network and deploy real-time video monitoring at a plant facility with Optage in Japan. Initial demos are expected to start in June.

While Ericsson is no stranger to private networks, the new packaged offering is both easy to deploy and manage, according to an Ericsson spokesperson. Other aspects that make the Private 5G product different include scalability and flexibility. The spokesperson said it provides access to Ericsson’s large radio portfolio and use of the vendor’s dual-mode core to enable 4G and 5G to run simultaneously. Different integrations also are part of the mix, with options such as RAN sharing and integrating management with operator networks, the spokesperson noted.

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In terms of ease, Ericsson touted that its Private 5G setup can be installed within hours at any facility and scaled for larger coverage areas when needed.

Primarily it’s targeting manufacturing, mining and process industry, offshore and power utilities, and ports and airports, but can apply to other users as well.

Industrial verticals have shown interest in private wireless, though some acknowledge it’s a slower process as specialized industries are making their own shifts to digitize operations on multiple fronts beyond just the network. But alongside advances in sensors, robotics and others, complex industrial operations are a target for 5G and 4G LTE applications.

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Ericsson called out use-cases like asset tracking and real-time automation for warehouse productivity with digital twins and more efficient quality inspections through augmented reality, or worker safety in mines with surveillance drones. A 5G private network helped implement safety protocols at the vendor’s own smart factory in Texas.

As part of efforts on the industrial private wireless front, Ericsson’s involved in the 5G-Industry Campus Europe. With an outdoor private network covering 1 square kilometer and an indoor setup of almost 7,000 square meters, it’s Europe’s largest industrial 5G research network.

Niels König, Coordinator 5G-Industry Campus Europe, Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, in a statement said that private 5G networks are highly attractive to tackle challenges of production.  

“Efficiently deploying and using network solutions in enterprises requires simplicity in installation, flexibility in connecting to existing production IT and lean operations while at the same time being able to scale the network to meet future challenges,” König stated.