The multi-million-pound agreement will see BT bring private 5G networks to organisations in sectors including manufacturing, defence, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics
Today, BT and Ericsson have announced a new partnership that will see them work together to provide private 5G networks for Industry 4.0 customers.
The deal will see BT use Ericsson technology to provide private 5G networks to partners in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and transport and logistics, focussing on enabling valuable solutions like asset tracking, predictive maintenance, and automation.
The specifics of the multi-million-pound deal were not revealed, though we are told the terms are for multiple years.
“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,” said Marc Overton, BT’s Managing Director for Division X, Enterprise. “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.
Overton noted the versatility of private 5G networks, being configurable to the enterprise customer’s specific requirements, as well as providing “the foundation to overlay other innovative technologies such as IoT, AI, VR and AR”.
This is not the first time that BT and Ericsson have worked together on private 5G. Back in 2020, the duo collaborated on deploying just such a network at Belfast Harbour in Ireland
, aiming to turn it into one of the world’s first ‘smart ports’.
Now, two years later, the operator is keen to showcase the project’s success, holding it up as a poster child for a private 5G deployment in real-world setting and an enabler of numerous additional technologies.
“We’re now into phase two of the project and this includes various use cases such as teleoperation of heavy plant machinery, artificial reality (AR) for remote maintenance, as well as enhanced video AI analytics and the use of drones for surveillance and inspections,” said Overton.
In addition to Belfast Harbour, BT has other private 5G network projects currently underway with Ericsson, including at the Worcester Bosch factory, where the technology is being used to enable IoT, edge computing, and autonomous robots.
The opportunity for private 5G networks for industry cannot be understated. In its press release, BT highlights a forecast from MarketResearch.com suggesting that the private 5G private network market will grow at 40% per year, reaching £10.7 billion by 2028. Other research is slightly less optimistic, with Vodafone last year suggesting that these networks could be worth up to £6.3 billion to UK manufacturing by 2030
Regardless, it is clear that interest in private 5G networks for industry partners is growing and we should expect to see more deals of this sort announced in the near future as operators move to make their private network solutions more accessible for potential customers.
How will private 5G networks impact industry in the UK? Join the ecosystem in discussion at this year’s live Connected Britain event