Service providers embracing Industry 4.0 with private cellular networks: Ericsson


The emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) requires both integration and connection of machines, people and other devices across a wide range of use cases. Leading communications service providers are accelerating this industrial transformation by introducing private networks to the industrial sector with solutions like Ericsson Industry Connect.

Cellular Internet of Things (IoT) is driving transformation across many sectors by enabling innovative services for industrial enterprises. There are currently more than a billion cellular IoT connections, and Ericsson forecasts that there will be around five billion connections by 2025. However, neither Wi-Fi nor public networks can offer the reliability or security needed in industrial scenarios so connectivity through cellular technology is foundational for ongoing digitalization.

Ericsson offers reliable communication solutions for private networks with any business-critical demand, providing the reliability, device density and security that current wireless solutions using unlicensed spectrum struggle to achieve. The company has two prime offerings: some cases can be covered by the pre-packaged Industry Connect solutions, while others require Ericsson’s modular and flexible Private Network solution. Both are available through service providers who will also use their own spectrum assets.

Launched in Q1 2019, Ericsson Industry Connect harnesses the power of next- generation mobile communications technology to enable communications service providers (CSPs) to offer private networks at factories and warehouses with 4G/LTE and a clear path to 5G. With an estimated addressable industry digitalization market of USD 700 billion by 2030 for service providers, the solution opens the door for Ericsson customers to capitalize on the transformative growth the sector will experience in the coming years.

Thomas Norén, Head of Dedicated Networks, Ericsson, commented, “Industry 4.0 needs secure, reliable, wireless connectivity. By leveraging 4G and 5G capabilities and adopting Ericsson Industry Connect, communications service providers can offer industrial customers a unique cellular connectivity solution that increases efficiency and productivity. Our private network offerings, with solutions like Industry Connect, complements service providers’ own offerings to enterprises and increases the relevance of cellular solutions in the high-grow segment of industrial connectivity.”

Accelerating industrial transformation

Frontrunner service providers around the world are increasing flexibility and enabling smart manufacturing by introducing private networks to the industrial sector with Ericsson Industry Connect.

In Ireland for example, Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) and Vodafone Ireland launched the country’s first 5G standalone private mobile network on March 18 at IMR’s Mullingar manufacturing facility. Ericsson Industry Connect enables Vodafone to provide a 5G standalone edge core and radio private network to IMR, facilitating the investigation and development of innovative use cases and smart applications in Ireland’s high-tech manufacturing community.

In the Nordics, Telenor Sweden secured the first commercial contract for the solution in September 2020 by entering into a commercial 5G agreement with Atlas Copco and installed and activated the dedicated private mobile network on the 3.7GHz band in Atlas Copco’s premises in Sickla, Stockholm.

And finally, in Taiwan, Far EasTone’s (FET) is using Ericsson Industry Connect to expand its offering to the industrial enterprise segment. FET explored the solution in early Q4 2020 through lab trials to test and validate their commercial 5G band, and gains a deeper understanding of the value proposition toward industrial enterprise customers. In 2021, FET expects its first commercial deployments of the solution, with volumes ramping up toward 2022 with a focus on the manufacturing sector.

At the recent Smart City Summit & Expo in Taiwan, FET displayed a live installment of Ericsson Industry Connect. The solution connected to Far EasTone’s (FET) spectrum in a full live environment with live traffic running through device partner Advantech’s hardware.

Transforming our own manufacturing facilities

Ericsson is also using the Industry Connect solution at its own smart factory in Lewisville, Texas to become even more efficient, reliable, environmentally friendly and innovative. Erik Simonsson, Head of the Ericsson USA 5G smart factory, says:

“The factory is not only a manufacturing site but also a place for innovation where we’re working on expanding our OnGo shared spectrum use cases. These use cases show the power of wireless solutions to digitally transform factories and industries for the better.”

In January 2021, Ericsson Industry Connect received the award for “Excellence in OnGo Industrial IoT Deployment” at the first annual OnGo Awards, presented by the OnGo Alliance. The award highlights the market impact of shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band, and Ericsson was selected based on its accomplishments deploying OnGo-based 4G private networks for six use cases at its factory in Lewisville.