Thales, Ericsson and EDF deploy private networks at nuclear plants across France

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EDF, Thales and Ericsson have partnered on CONNECT, a project to bring secure cellular connectivity to all of EDF’s nuclear energy sites in France. Thales, a leader in network design and operation, is deploying secure communications services while also guaranteeing the overall system integration and secure networking.

Ericsson is providing innovative 4G private network solutions as well as the core network, to ensure high-performance connectivity, resilience, and security.

Due to the specific needs of the energy giant, cybersecurity is a key element of this collaboration and has been integrated into every step of deployment.

Facilitating the work of the operational teams

The new private network solution will enhance site performance, maintenance, operations, and logistics. Enhanced connectivity, for example, will allow EDF employees and their partners to have remote access to all needed resources via secure terminals. The new network infrastructure has been purpose built for EDF, ensuring that the specific needs of the nuclear power provider, such as scalability, flexibility, and cybersecurity are in place. An evolution towards 5G is possible in the long term.

Blayais pilot: start of a national project in France

The first nuclear plant to benefit from the CONNECT project is Blayais. After a successful joint pilot, the connectivity solution at the Blayais site is now being operated independently by EDF. Rollout of the solution to EDF’s other power plants is scheduled for 2021 at a rate of two to four plants per year.

Bruno Suty, Director of Information Systems and Digital at EDF Group’s Nuclear and Thermal Production Division, says: “The CONNECT project enables the integration of new use cases linked to the digital transition in our production units, including in the industrial field. The deployment of this secure 4G network really enables us to improve performance and efficiency and will considerably simplify the work of teams in the field.”

Jean-Claude Schmitt, Vice President, Networks and Infrastructure Systems at Thales, says: “Thales is delighted to be able to contribute to France’s excellence of EDF thanks to the CONNECT project. With recognized expertise and world-class equipment, Thales combines its know-how with the innovation and performance of the French SMB ecosystem to provide a secure, fully integrated system that meets our customers’ specific needs.”

Åsa Tamsons, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Technologies and New Businesses, Ericsson, says: “Critical national infrastructure requires high-level performance and trust, so we are very pleased at Ericsson to be working on such an important rollout alongside EDF and Thales. Ericsson’s private network solutions are a robust platform that unlock huge benefits for industries with unrivalled security. Our networks allow for a natural upgrade to 5G, so we can keep innovating alongside EDF for tomorrow.”

A major player in the energy transition, the EDF Group is an integrated energy company, active in all business lines: production, transport, distribution, trading, energy sales and energy services. As the world leader in low-carbon energy, the Group has developed a diversified production mix based on nuclear energy, hydraulic energy, new renewable energies and thermal energy.