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GE, Nokia and Qualcomm to demo LTE IIoT network at MWC

Steve Rogerson
February 23, 2017
GE Digital, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies will demonstrate at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a private LTE network for the industrial IoT market, meshing together each party's platforms and technologies.
The companies plan further research and live field trials throughout 2017 based on this demonstration, designed to advance the digitisation 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 difficult. A standalone LTE network to serve devices and users within a localised area can help improve performance and reliability for these industrial settings.
Private LTE-based networks use LTE-based technologies in shared, unlicensed or dedicated-licensed spectrum. This demonstration will use LTE-TDD in the US 3.5GHz shared spectrum band also known as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). With MulteFire, unlicensed spectrum bands can be used to create private LTE-based networks, such as the 5GHz band available globally.
As part of the collaboration and technology demonstration, Qualcomm will provide the wireless technology and device chipsets.
"Industries such as factories, warehouses, container ports and airports are increasingly dependent on wireless connectivity to efficiently operate as they continue to utilise more wireless data and connect countless IoT devices to their networks," said Michael Wallace, senior vice president at Qualcomm. "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."
Nokia will be providing base station infrastructure plus the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud service to run the network as an on-demand private network.
"Private LTE networks bring an entirely new level of advanced, low latency and robust wireless connectivity into verticals and industries," said Stephan Litjens, general manager at Nokia. "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-and-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 to life."
GE is integrating these 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 California, which GE will use to develop its Predix platform further.
"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," said Peter Marx, vice president at GE Digital. "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."
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 customise the dedicated LTE network for the company's specific applications, such as optimising for capacity, quality-of-service or guaranteed latencies.