Telefónica industrial 5G services to go live in January

IoT chips

After being told for years how 5G promises to shake up the enterprise market, one operator is on the cusp of actually turning that dream into a reality.

Telefónica revealed this week that its Spanish unit will begin offering a range of commercial industrial 5G services from 1 January, making it the first operator in the country to do so. These are not pilot projects or field tests; they are not memoranda of understanding or pledges to co-develop solutions that may or may not see the light of day. These are commercial services that will be available to end customers from the beginning of next year.

“According to internal data, it is expected that from 2022 and over the next 5 years, 40 percent of the industrial sector will demand 5G connectivity,” Telefónica said, in statement (in Spanish). The solutions that are launched on the market will allow companies to take advantage of the benefits that this technology provides in the future.”

These benefits include high bandwidth/low latency, temporary network traffic prioritisation, private networking, security, and supporting up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometre, the telco said.

Initially, three services – all developed by Telefónica Tech – will be available. The first is automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for industrial use. They are controlled by Telefónica’s IoT visualisation and route planning platform, enabling them to perform repetitive tasks – like moving loads around a warehouse – on a 24/7 basis, without human interaction.

The second is remote assistance, with AR smart glasses as an optional extra. “Thanks to this solution, it will be possible, among other things, to better resolve incidents by having the help of experts in real time and remotely, ensuring response times and reducing the impact on production, since you can be guided in person by expert technicians, which will minimise errors,” Telefónica said. “It will also allow the sharing of files and diagnoses avoiding face-to-face visits. Therefore, it is a solution especially suitable for industry, logistics, health, and the utilities sector.”

The third solution centres on 5G drones equipped with cameras and other sensors. These can be used to conduct surveillance and also carry out inspections of land and equipment, for example. As well as the drone and the management platform, customers also have the option to avail themselves of the services of a drone pilot and a data scientist to analyse the data gathered by the drone.

Telefónica said these three use cases can run on either its Movistar public mobile network; a virtual private 5G network; or a dedicated private network. That first option would be the most affordable, followed by option two. Customers with a bigger budget and the most stringent requirements regarding security and throughput would plump for the dedicated private network.

It’s worth noting that all these commercial offerings run on Telefónica’s non-standalone 5G network, which means they are also able to function in LTE as well as 5G environments. Telefónica is due to begin rolling out standalone (SA) 5G in Spain next year, which will allow it to add more use cases to its portfolio.

“In the coming months, Telefónica will complete the portfolio of solutions with other more complex ones such as the digital twin to act in critical situations or computer vision and IoT solutions to promote smart cities,” the Spanish incumbent said.

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