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Private Networks

Eurobites: UK manufacturing hopes 5G can help break the mold

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: snuffling out 5G startups; SEE Enterprise doubles its network, signs connectivity deal with Three UK; Vodafone develops IoT-fueled product recall system.

  • The potential of 5G to play a significant role in "smart manufacturing" is to be explored by three heavyweight UK manufacturers in tandem with Ericsson and Digital Catapult, which describes itself as "UK's leading advanced digital technology innovation centre." Seagate, Siemens and Tharsus have joined the Industrial 5G Accelerator program to co-develop individual applications that use advanced wireless technologies, 5G private networks among them, to make manufacturing businesses more efficient. These three companies will be working alongside Ericsson, Digital Catapult and "selected UK mobile network operators" to "identify smart manufacturing opportunities that focus on improvements for productivity, flexibility and connectivity in an industrial setting."

  • Ericsson is involved in another project – along with Swisscom and Qualcomm – to identify "the world's most innovative start-ups and research teams" working on 5G applications. The five winners of the Swisscom Start-up Challenge will be invited to Switzerland in spring 2021 for an "Exploration Week" during which they will have the opportunity to carry out testing on their prototypes in Swisscom's live 5G network and tap into the brain-power of experts from Ericsson, Qualcomm and Venturelab. The deadline for applications in October 11. The prize for the winning team is an invitation to the newly postponed Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2021.

  • SSE Enterprise Telecoms, which sells connectivity services to operators and business customers, has announced a major network expansion program that sees it "unbundling" another 259 BT exchanges by the end of 2021, bringing its total of unbundled exchanges to 550. The company says that 100Gbit/s and 10Gbit/s services will be offered "as standard" from the newly unbundled Exchanges. As part of this expansion, SSE has signed a £100 million (US$127 million) connectivity agreement with mobile operator Three UK, which will use SSE's expanded exchange footprint to bolster its existing 4G services and create new 5G networks.

  • Vodafone is developing a prototype product recall system that uses IoT technology to address the recurring problem of electrical appliances that are sold to consumers then later found to be dangerous. The company's boffins have devised a system that uses a miniature electronic device module – similar in size to a SIM card – installed within the appliance to provide a link over Vodafone's network. If a fault is detected, the owner of the appliance can either be sent a notification or, in the case of a dangerous fault, such as one that could start a fire, the appliance can be remotely disabled by its manufacturer.

  • Sigfox, the struggling French IoT network provider, is planning to cut 12% of its workforce, or 47 permanent positions, according to a report in Les Echos (paywall applies). Around half of the redundancies will be voluntary, says the report. (See Sigfox Still Shedding Top Execs, Including CTO – Sources and French Toast? Sigfox on Skid Row.)

  • UK operator BT and electronics giant Toshiba have announced what they claim is Britain's first industrial deployment of a "quantum-secure network," transmitting between two aerospace production facilities, the National Composites Centre and the Centre for Modelling and Simulation. The (gulp) "unhackable" network, says its backers, demonstrates how quantum key distribution (QKD) technology can be used to secure data traffic traveling at speeds in excess of 10 Mbit/s between key industrial sites where security is of the utmost importance.

  • Israel's Mobileye has teamed up with Habtoor of the UAE to develop a fleet of self-driving taxis that, they say, could be trundling through the streets of Dubai by the end of 2022. According to a Reuters report, the project will begin with 1,000 cars being equipped with Mobileye's system to map Dubai and collect all necessary data.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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