Nokia enables first UK 5G Standalone network

Nokia enables first UK 5G Standalone network

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Virgin Media O2 Business is the UK’s first telco to offer a portable commercial 5G Standalone (SA) Private Network (PN) using equipment from Nokia.

Once plugged in, the 5G Standalone portable network equipment enables companies to immediately access 5G connections without having to build an entire network.

Since the first trials of the portable solution, Virgin Media O2 Business has developed and deployed two 5G SA PN platforms. Telefónica’s innovation arm Wayra tested the equipment since last summer, enabling customers and small businesses to experience 5G SA enabled applications first-hand.

Nokia is supplying its Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) and Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) and start-ups based in Wayra’s London office have already benefited from the solution, including Mobilus Labs. This uses advanced voice technology to enable industrial teams to communicate in environments with extreme noise (85 dB+).

To ensure safe interactions between people and devices on sites like construction, manufacturing and healthcare locations, Mobilus Labs requires fast internet speeds and secure connections which private 5G networks can provide. Further trials with companies offering products ranging from Virtual Reality (VR) applications to Internet of Things (IoT) services have already shown benefits including high reliability, enhanced data security, and ultra-low latency.

“The benefit to enterprises is clear; better use of data, better security, more efficient and faster operations and less waste, however, the challenge is still on educating the enterprise market on the value of private networks compared to other connectivity solutions. Understanding of the challenges and opportunities has increased significantly, but there is still more to be done,” said from Ann Heyse, Telco Solutions Manager at equipment supplier BICS.

“A second big challenge is still regulation and access to spectrum. The hyperscale cloud providers have seen an opportunity to target the enterprise, particularly in markets like the United States where the CBRS (Citizen Broadband Radio Service) band has been opened up to businesses. Access to this spectrum allowed Amazon to launch AWS Private 5G late last year. Germany has similarly reserved 5G spectrum for private companies and the likes of Bosch, BMW, Siemens and Volkswagen have already bought licences. While this solution will use VMO2’s spectrum, it’s only a matter of time before access to spectrum is opened up to private companies on a global scale, through cost-reduction and legislation changes.”

As the Nokia systems are used for the 5G Standalone demonstrations in Industry 4.0 robotics, IoT, VR, and Artificial Intelligence.

Jo Bertram, Managing Director at Virgin Media O2 Business, said: “Moving beyond trials, Virgin Media O2 Business is now the UK’s first telco to offer a portable commercial 5G Standalone Private Network. Britain is a hub for innovation, so it’s crucial that companies operating here can access the connectivity needed to create new experiences for customers. From start-ups to large enterprises, our latest network solution will enable 5G trials and deployment without the time or cost of building a whole network. Removing barriers, like location and cost, to ensure that businesses get the connection they need.”

Phil Siveter, CEO at Nokia UK&I, said: “Nokia has deployed mission-critical networks to more than 2,600 leading enterprise customers in the transportation, energy, manufacturing, webscale, and public sector segments around the globe. We have also extended our expertise to more than 635 private wireless customers worldwide. We have developed Nokia Digital Automated Cloud and MXIE to help enterprises achieve their economic, environmental, and operational goals in the most intuitive way. This private wireless network delivers on high resilience, performance, and security as part of the OT Edge, helping to accelerate enterprise adoption of OT transformation.”

Bruno Moraes, Managing Director at Wayra UK, said: “Reliable, fast, precise, on-demand connectivity is a must for all businesses, especially those in the most challenging environments like hospitals and construction sites etc. This plug-and-play private network unlocks reliable and low-cost connectivity for those industries whenever and wherever they need it, which is game-changing. In partnership with Virgin Media O2, we are collaborating with corporate customers and startups in these areas to test this network and build new products on the foundation of new levels of connectivity.”;

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