GE Digital, Nokia, Qualcomm launch private LTE-based trial network customized for industrial IoT

GE Digital, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., announced Wednesday that the companies have successfully demonstrated a private LTE network for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market; meshing together each party’s platforms and technologies.

In addition, the companies have announced plans to further research and conduct live field trials throughout this year based on this demonstration, designed to advance the digitization of industrial processes.

As part of the collaboration and technology demonstration, Qualcomm Technologies will provide the wireless technology and device chipsets. Nokia will be providing base station infrastructure plus the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud service to run the network as an on demand private network.

Private LTE-based networks will enable industries and enterprises to own and manage their own LTE network without requiring licensed spectrum and still enjoy the high-performance benefits from LTE with a strong roadmap to 5G. Private LTE-based networks also offer the ability to customize the dedicated LTE network for the company’s specific applications, such as optimizing for capacity, quality-of-service, or guaranteed latencies.

GE is integrating these new types of connectivity into its Predix platform – an open-architecture operating system for the Industrial Internet – to help industrial companies better manage their assets and operations, often found far from the public communications networks.

Further, the agreements between the parties include the installation of a private LTE network at GE Digital’s headquarters in San Ramon, California, which GE will use to further develop its Predix platform.

Industrial companies often have local connectivity needs and operate in remote locations or temporary sites, such as mines, power plants, offshore oil platforms, factories, warehouses or ports-connectivity for these environments can be challenging. A standalone LTE network to serve devices and users within a localized area can help improve performance and reliability for these industrial settings.

“Industries such as factories, warehouses, container ports and airports are increasingly dependent on wireless connectivity to efficiently operate as they continue to utilize more wireless data and connect countless IoT devices to their networks,” said Michael Wallace, SVP and GM, Emerging Business, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “With this collaboration, we are providing companies in the Industrial IoT space the ability to leverage the core advantages of LTE including full mobility, high data rates and coverage, predictable latency, quality of service and ease of deployment.”

“Connecting the world’s machines to an industrial operating system like Predix is vital to unlocking the data and insights necessary to both increase efficiency and drive adoption of emerging technologies, such as machine learning and computer vision, in industry,” said Peter Marx, Vice President, Advanced Concepts, GE Digital. “Bringing LTE-based networks that use shared and unlicensed spectrum to our customers operating in remote and unpopulated locations is a powerful advancement beyond what is available today.”

“Private LTE networks bring an entirely new level of advanced, low latency and robust wireless connectivity solutions into verticals and industries” said Stephan Litjens, GM Digital Automation, Nokia. “This allows companies to significantly increase the level of automation and analytics in use by adding more sensors, IOT devices, robotics and in general use wireless connectivity for their business and production critical processes.  With this collaboration, Nokia accelerates the promise of automated industry by supporting a ‘plug n play’ private LTE ecosystem. The combination of capabilities from GE, Qualcomm, and Nokia is ideal to bring the promise of analytics in end-to-end industrial IoT solutions to life.”

Nokia and Intel enhanced earlier this week their relationship to enable the development of 5G services by opening two 5G solutions labs to test and accelerate the commercial readiness of the new wireless technology.

The joint 5G acceleration labs, to be located in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and in Espoo, Finland, will build on the companies’ core competencies and technology strengths. Together they will test and develop next-generation wireless solutions focused on all aspects of 5G, from the network and cloud to the client.

The labs will work closely with communications service providers and other companies in the 5G ecosystem to support comprehensive integration and testing. This will help those providers derive deployment options and identify operational models needed to make 5G a commercial reality. This lab work will be done in alignment with 3GPP standards.

The labs will start out encompassing LTE, 4.5G, 4.5G Pro and 4.9G technologies using essential building blocks such as the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. Usage of these technologies within the lab, as well as the collaborations that the lab will drive, will help communications service providers power next-generation networks and the 5G future.

Nokia has also teamed earlier this month with Alphabet’s Access Group and Qualcomm Technologies to demonstrate the initial live demo of a private LTE network over CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) shared spectrum at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The companies built a virtual reality zone inside stock car race cars operating at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, with 360° video streaming to provide an “in car” experience in real time.

Deployment of a private LTE network is becoming a reality due to the availability of the CBRS spectrum (without the auction costs) and advances in network technology that are providing the performance benefits of LTE with an easy deployment model.

The display highlighted some performance benefits of using LTE, including consistent high data rates to stream 360° video for immersive experiences, superior mobility at extreme race car speeds, exceptional outdoor coverage, and capacity that can be customized to meet the needs of the particular service.

The demonstration, which achieved speeds in excess of 180 mph, showed how the combination of a new CBRS band and technologies can offer new audience experiences, but also how shared spectrum can be used by venues and enterprises to deploy their own private LTE network to offer new services.

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