US telco Verizon has linked arms with Nokia to build enterprise-oriented private 5G networks.
Verizon has opted for Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) platform as the basis of the next generation network, which will initially be available to businesses in Europe and Asia Pacific.
This kit — which supports 4.9G/LTE and 5G standards — lets biz customers spin up a private network for their campuses based on Nokia's AirScale radio and baseband equipment. Nokia DAC contains an edge computing element, allowing businesses to deploy applications to the network via a web-based interface.
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This accompanies a separate agreement with Microsoft, which will see Verizon push out Azure Edge services to its business customers.
Ice Mobility, an Illinois-based logistics provider, was the first business to sign up to a pilot. Using Azure Edge and Verizon's public 5G network, Ice Mobility deployed a computer vision application designed to perform quality assurance checks on its product packaging lines.
Private cellular networks are an alternative to public carriers and large enterprise Wi-Fi deployments, and consist of micro-towers that connect to the organisation's LAN.
The first LTE-based networks date back to the early 2010s, where they found success in geographically expansive environments, where standard enterprise Wi-Fi kit would be challenging to deploy. One early adopter was Rio Tinto, which deployed a 4G service across 15 Australian mines.
As cellular base stations typically have a larger range than Wi-Fi hubs, businesses are able to consolidate their infrastructure, while mitigating against connectivity black-spots. This is crucial in agricultural and industrial applications, where there are often thousands of moving "parts" — like machinery and livestock.
The next generation of 5G-based private cellular networks have their own advantages over LTE-based systems, many of which are common with public networks, such as improved bandwidth and latency. But the real "killer app" is spectrum, which is more abundant than in previous cellular standards, and perhaps most importantly for Nokia and Verizon, more widely available internationally. ®