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Private Networks

Honeywell to test private 5G network

Multinational conglomerate Honeywell is looking to test a 5G network in the newly freed 3.4GHz-3.55GHz spectrum band at its massive corporate campus in Mason, Ohio.

In its application to the FCC, the company said it will use up to 30 prototype devices from Qualcomm and several basestations from test and measurement company Amarisoft for the effort.

"This experimental license request is in support of a small 5G R&D development network planned for operation indoors at a Honeywell building. The R&D network will utilize a 100MHz transmission bandwidth within the frequency range of 3.4-3.55 GHz," the company said, without providing further details. "This experimental license is critical for Honeywell to develop applications for 5G technology wireless communications systems."

Company officials did not return requests for comment from Light Reading on the project.

Honeywell filed for permission to conduct the tests at its Honeywell Intelligrated headquarters. Honeywell acquired Intelligrated in 2016 for $1.5 billion. The combined company, Honeywell Intelligrated, "designs, manufactures, integrates and installs complete material handling automation solutions" for customers such as Target, UPS and Pepsi.

Meaning, Honeywell Intelligrated designs and builds the warehouses that store products for retailers, delivery companies and others, and now it's likely looking at whether to integrate 5G technologies into its offerings.

Honeywell Intelligrated also operates a "demo loop" warehouse in Mason. "This robust demo center simulates a live warehouse environment and features multiple technologies integrated into a sample loop," the company explained on its website, noting the warehouse can test a range of technologies including automated robots and connected industrial IoT technologies.

Honeywell's efforts undoubtedly come as good news to the likes of Verizon, Ericsson and Nokia, which are betting heavily that 5G will be used in "private wireless networks" operated by enterprises ranging from manufacturing companies to healthcare providers. Indeed, Nokia officials have speculated that the worldwide market for such private wireless networks might be twice as large as the market for commercial 5G networks, and the company has been working to polish its 5G offerings for the opportunity.

Honeywell isn't the only company testing 4G and 5G private wireless networks. Others looking at the space range from Microsoft to Hitachi to Ford to UPS.

But Honeywell's plans for its operation in Mason are particularly noteworthy considering they focus on the 3.4GHz-3.55GHz spectrum band. The FCC just this week voted to make 100MHz of midband spectrum in that band available for 5G deployment across the US. However, the details about how exactly that band might be made available to companies like Honeywell remain unclear; the FCC said it's now soliciting comments on how to coordinate non-federal and federal users in the band, as well as how it might auction the band for commercial uses.

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

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