Ericsson signs ‘ground-breaking’ private 5G deal with BT

Ericsson and BT Group announced a multi-million dollar joint partnership to provide commercial 5G private networks for the U.K. market, billed as the first agreement of its kind in the country.

The companies identified manufacturing, defense, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics as sectors likely to benefit from their next-gen services.

The deal comes soon after BT announced it was investing more than $100 million over the next three years in its Division X unit to accelerate the development of customer solutions that integrate emerging technologies like 5G, IoT, edge compute, cloud and artificial intelligence (AI).

“This U.K.-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,” said Marc Overton, BT’s managing director for Division X, Enterprise, in a statement. “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.”

Ericsson U.K. and Ireland CEO Katherine Ainley said the “ground-breaking agreement with BT” means they’re taking a leading role in ensuring 5G has a transformative impact for the U.K.

“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,” Ainley stated.

Belfast Harbour installation

BT and Ericsson point out that they’ve already worked together on several major projects incorporating private 5G networks, including standalone (SA) 5G at Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland.

The two companies installed a 5G private network across 35 acres of operational port, enabling the port to drive operational efficiencies and accelerate its digital transformation through optimizing processes across transport, logistics, supply chain and shipping.

More than 1.75 million people and over half a million freight vehicles arrive and depart through this port every year. An estimated 24 million tons of goods are managed and carried by ferries, container ships and cargo vessels.

They’re now into Phase 2 of the project at the port, which includes various use cases such as tele-operation of heavy plant machinery, artificial reality (AR) for remote maintenance and enhanced video AI analytics, as well as drones for surveillance and inspections.