Home5GVodafone Idea taps Athonet for Industry 4.0 trials in dedicated test spectrum in India

Vodafone Idea taps Athonet for Industry 4.0 trials in dedicated test spectrum in India

Indian mobile operator Vodafone Idea Limited, doing business as Vi, is working with Italy-based private 5G specialist Athonet to test 5G-based solutions for Industry 4.0, and related disciplines. The partnership is looking at industrial 5G use cases for smart construction, smart warehousing, smart agriculture, and smart workplaces, the paid said. The trials will be conducted using dedicated 5G spectrum allocated by the Indian government’s department of telecom (DoT).

The Indian government is yet to reserve ‘vertical’ spectrum for industrial 5G usage, as governments have done in various markets in Europe, as well as in Japan and the US. The Indian government is still auctioning remaining LTE bands; meanwhile, chunks of mid-band and millimeter-wave spectrum are in use by government agencies. The government is trying to vacate these variously so it can auction new bandwidth next year, although there remains no word, as yet, on spectrum for industrial usage.

The collaboration between Vodafone Idea and Athonet, which has been particularly active in the private 4G-LTE and 5G markets in Europe and the US, is designed to showcase the value of 5G for enterprises, and notably for driving a new Industry 4.0 economy. Vi has deployed the new trial, using a 5G SA cloud core and radio network, plus a “new generation” transport layer, in the city of Pune, in the western state of Maharashtra, considered an automobile and manufacturing hub in the country, as well as a major regional IT powerhouse.

Vi has been allocated prime mid-range and mmWave bands by the DoT for the trial, at 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz, respectively. In initial tests, it recorded peak download speeds of around of 3.7 Gbps in the mmWave spectrum band, and 1.5 Gbps in 3.5 Ghz band. It talked up high-speed low-latency use cases such as video surveillance and broadcast / streaming, which it suggested were powerful candidate applications for smart cities and smart factories. “[The] smart-city and Industry 4.0 [movements] will help accelerate 5G deployment and usher in a promising new era of ‘digital India’,” it said.

Vodafone Idea, the result of a 2018 merger between Vodafone and Idea Cellular, is the third largest mobile operator in India. It claims to be the only telecom company in India to offer “secure end-to-end IoT”, covering connectivity, hardware, network, application, analytics, security and support. Athonet is providing the core networking platform for the new industrial 5G trials in Pune.

Abhijit Kishore, chief enterprise business officer at Vodafone Idea, said: “Vi Business has a significant presence in enabling smart utility and smart infrastructure solutions to large and small enterprises. Our partnership with Athonet to demonstrate and validate 5G solutions is a critical step towards building Industry 4.0 use cases, which will be a significant growth driver of the digital economy in the future.”

Gianluca Verin, chief executive at Athonet, said: “This partnership shows the real use cases and benefits that 5G-SA can bring. Over the last decade, Athonet has built a complete solution for private LTE and 5G cellular allowing best of breed networks to be delivered with cutting edge applications. These solutions can now be used to build the Industry 4.0 use cases needed today for smart construction, smart warehouse, smart workplace and smart agriculture.”

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