As the need to remotely monitor and manage large numbers of connected assets increases, interest is booming in 5G, the latest cellular technology in the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) family of telecommunication standards. Unlike previous cellular and wireless networks such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, 5G offers high data transfer rates, low latency, and the ability to connect to many devices. As a result, it is ideal for mission-critical industrial applications that require reliability, real-time communication, and large-scale coverage. Common use cases include the deployment of remote-controlled vehicles, real-time tracking of assets in large environments, and multimedia communication with workers in the field via wearable devices.
While these benefits can be attained from public 5G, many in industry are opting to establish their own private 5G networks instead. One reason for this is that a dedicated 5G network tailored specifically to end users' operational needs can provide better coverage and more reliable performance, since it does not require its bandwidth be shared with others. Another reason is that using private 5G enables companies to maintain internal control of their confidential data, thereby increasing cybersecurity protections.
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Demonstrating this preference for private 5G, Volkswagen recently had Nokia deploy a private 5G network at the automobile manufacturer's primary plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The network provides coverage to the production development center and pilot hall at the Wolfsburg facility. According to Nokia, Volkswagen will use the installation to test whether 5G technology is able to meet the stringent requirements of its vehicle production process.
“Predictable wireless performance and the real-time capabilities of 5G have great potential for smart factories in the not-so-distant future," said Klaus-Dieter Tuchs, a network planning consultant at Volkswagen. "With this pilot deployment, we are exploring the possibilities 5G has to offer and are building our expertise in operating and using 5G technology in an industrial context."
|Read about another private 5G network that was recently announced.|
The deployment also uses Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud platform, which combines 4G or 5G connectivity with edge computing capabilities and a library of plug-and-play applications. The Digital Automation Cloud also includes radio access points for establishing wireless local area connections, various spectrum options including unlicensed, shared, and licensed, and a web-based management portal.
|Learn more about Volkswagen's Industrial Cloud Initiative.|
Volkswagen use cases intended to test the new network include wireless upload of data to manufactured vehicles and networking of robots and wireless assembly tools. All data used by the network will be processed at the edge in real-time, never leaving Volkswagen's facility. While the network is private, it operates in a frequency band allocated by the German Federal Network Agency.