Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

ge predix windmill

GE, Nokia and Qualcomm unveil ‘first’ private LTE-based trial network customized for industrial IoT

ge predix windmill

GE Digital, Nokia Networks and Qualcomm Technologies say they have successfully demonstrated a private LTE network for the industrial internet of things market.

LTE stands for “long term evolution” and refers to an advanced version of the 4G network.

The new GE-Nokia-Qualcomm network meshes together each party’s platforms and technologies.

The companies plan to further research and conduct live field trials throughout 2017 based on this demonstration, which they says is “designed to advance the digitization of industrial processes”. 

Industrial companies often have local connectivity needs and operate in remote locations or temporary sites, such as mines, power plants, offshore oil platforms, factories, warehouses or ports—connectivity for these environments can be challenging.

A standalone LTE network to serve devices and users within a localized area can help improve performance and reliability for these industrial settings.

Private LTE-based networks utilize LTE-based technologies in shared/unlicensed/dedicated-licensed spectrum.

This demonstration utilizes LTE-TDD in the US 3.5 GHz shared spectrum band also known as Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

With MulteFire, unlicensed spectrum bands can be used to create private LTE-based networks, such as the 5 GHz band available globally.

As part of the collaboration and technology demonstration, Qualcomm Technologies will provide the wireless technology and device chipsets. Nokia will be providing base station infrastructure plus the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud service to run the network as an on demand private network.

GE is integrating these new types of connectivity into its Predix platform – an open-architecture operating system for the industrial internet – to help industrial companies better manage their assets and operations, often found far from the public communications networks.

Further, the agreements between the parties include the installation of a private LTE network at GE Digital’s headquarters in San Ramon, Calif., which GE will use to further develop its Predix platform.

Michael Wallace, senior vice president and general manager, emerging business, Qualcomm Technologies, says: “Industries such as factories, warehouses, container ports and airports are increasingly dependent on wireless connectivity to efficiently operate as they continue to utilize more wireless data and connect countless IoT devices to their networks.

“With this collaboration, we are providing companies in the Industrial IoT space the ability to leverage the core advantages of LTE including full mobility, high data rates and coverage, predictable latency, quality of service and ease of deployment.”

Peter Marx, vice president, advanced concepts, GE Digital, says: “Connecting the world’s machines to an industrial operating system like Predix is vital to unlocking the data and insights necessary to both increase efficiency and drive adoption of emerging technologies, such as machine learning and computer vision, in industry.

“Bringing LTE-based networks that use shared and unlicensed spectrum to our customers operating in remote and unpopulated locations is a powerful advancement beyond what is available today.”

Stephan Litjens, GM Digital Automation, Nokia, says: “Private LTE networks bring an entirely new level of advanced, low latency and robust wireless connectivity solutions into verticals and industries.

“This allows companies to significantly increase the level of automation and analytics in use by adding more sensors, IOT devices, robotics and in general use wireless connectivity for their business and production critical processes.

“With this collaboration, Nokia accelerates the promise of automated industry by supporting a ‘plug n play’ private LTE ecosystem. The combination of capabilities from GE, Qualcomm, and Nokia is ideal to bring the promise of analytics in end-to-end industrial IoT solutions to life.”

Private LTE-based networks will enable industries and enterprises to own and manage their own LTE network without requiring licensed spectrum and still enjoy the high-performance benefits from LTE with a strong roadmap to 5G.

Private LTE-based networks also offer the ability to customize the dedicated LTE network for the company’s specific applications, such as optimizing for capacity, quality-of-service, or guaranteed latencies.