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Nokia highlights Volkswagen 5G private mobile network deal

Telecommunication tower with 5G cellular network antenna

Finnish kit vendor Nokia is one of a number of providers to benefit from Germany’s award of local 5G licences for vertical use cases.

Nokia flagged the deployment of another 5G private mobile network in Germany, this time with Volkswagen AG at the latter’s main plant in Wolfsburg.

The German carmaker had, in October 2021, already indicated that the pilot project was available, but Nokia has now revealed more about the technology that is being deployed.

Specifically, the campus network is based on 5G standalone technology and uses Nokia’s Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) solution to provide “reliable, secure, real-time connectivity and enable Volkswagen to trial new smart factory use cases.”

Local licences, for local use cases

The network also uses dedicated 3.7GHz/3.8GHz frequencies that Volkswagen was allocated by Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), Germany’s Federal Network Agency.

BNetzA began awarding local 5G licences in this band in November 2019 and so far has received 170 local 5G network applications, with 169 granted. A total of 100MHz of spectrum was reserved in this band for vertical use cases — a move that was not exactly welcomed at the time by telcos Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica Deutschland and Vodafone Germany. The regulator also launched the applications process for local licences in the 26GHz band (24.25GHz–27.5GHz) on 1 January 2021 and has so far received and granted seven licences.

The local 5G licences in the 3.7GHz/3.8GHz band are designed for use by agricultural, industrial, and research organisations. Vendors and MNOs, despite their initial resistance, have been angling to become the campus network partner of choice in Germany.

For example, Deutsche Telekom has formed a strategic partnership with Ericsson and trial partners such as Accenture, Audi, BASF, BMW, and OSRAM for campus network. Telefonica Deutschland is also working with Ericsson, with one high-profile project including the Mercedes-Benz Cars campus network at Factory 56 in Sindelfingen. Furthermore, Vodafone Germany has flagged deals with both Ericsson and Nokia.

For its part, Nokia has announced German deals with industrial robot and automation specialist Kuka in Augsburg; the 5G4KMU project, which spans five research centres in the state of Baden-Württemberg; Deutsche Bahn; Lufthansa Technik and more besides. Nokia has also partnered with Smart Mobile Labs AG, which provides deployment and integration services for the Nokia DAC solution.

A Nokia spokesperson said the vendor has more than 380 private mobile customers, 75 of which have a 5G component in their deployments. In addition, 44% of its private mobile customers are based in Europe.

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