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Private Networks

Ericsson pushes private wireless networking product toward AT&T

Ericsson appears to be working to sell its new "Industry Connect" product to AT&T's top brass, based on a new filing the company made with the FCC.

"Ericsson would like to showcase their network connectivity capabilities with their Industry Connect product to AT&T Executive Management at the Ericsson/ATT Tech Summit meeting to be held at the downtown Dallas Adolphus Hotel on February 11," the company wrote in a filing with the FCC requesting permission to conduct wireless operations in the 3300-3800MHz spectrum band. (The FCC is the US government agency in charge of managing the nation's spectrum resources and operations.) "Operation will be indoor only," Ericsson added.

A representative with the company explained that Ericsson's "Industry Connect" is one of the demos it shows to its customers. "Probably will hear a lot about it this year," an Ericsson spokesperson wrote in response to questions from Light Reading, without providing details.

While the particulars of the "Industry Connect" relationship between Ericsson and AT&T are somewhat unclear, it would come as no surprise that Ericsson is working to sell additional equipment and services to AT&T. After all, Ericsson is one of AT&T's three main 5G equipment suppliers along with Nokia and Samsung.

Ericsson announced its "Industry Connect" effort roughly a year ago. The company said the product "enables communication service providers to offer dedicated cellular networks at factories and warehouses starting with 4G/LTE, with a clear path to 5G," adding that it "strengthens Ericsson's private networks and IoT portfolios by making 4G and 5G technologies accessible to new industrial markets."

AT&T's interest in the private wireless networking space, particularly for 5G, is well documented. The operator has built 5G private wireless networks for factories including Samsung's chip-making facility in Austin, Texas, and Whirlpool's manufacturing plant in Ohio.

And AT&T and Ericsson aren't alone in chasing the opportunity to build private wireless networks -- be it 3G, 4G or 5G -- for factories and other enterprise operations. Indeed, Nokia late last year said that it runs more than 120 private wireless networks across the globe, including for Vienna Airport, mining company Minera Las Bambas, Sendai City and manufacturing outfit Ukkoverkot/Konecranes.

A wide range of enterprises and other businesses are inching toward private wireless networks in the US including shipping giant UPS, Las Vegas hotel company MGM Resorts International and automaker Ford, among others.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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