TIM drafts in Athonet and JMA for private 5G network at Italian Industry 4.0 centre
Italian mobile operator TIM has drafted in local networking outfit Athonet and local system integrator Alsacom, alongside US pair JMA Wireless and Qualcomm, to establish a private 5G test network at the BI-REX centre, one the Italian government’s eight competence centres for Industry 4.0. The network has been put live on the so-called ‘pilot line’ at the BI-REX centre, presented as a live testbed for industrial collaboration and digital change.
TIM is providing the airtime and network knowhow, and is provisionally in charge of the project. Athonet is providing the core 5G network; JMA is providing the 5G radio functions; Qualcomm is providing network hardware and devices; and Alsacom is pulling the whole thing together. It is unclear, from a press statement, which spectrum bands the new private 5G deployment will occupy.
BI-REX is a public-private consortium of 56 partners, drawn from academia and industry. WiLab, the National Laboratory of Wireless Communications at the National Interuniversity Consortium for Telecommunications (CNIT), founded in 2020 by the universities of Bologna, Ferrara, and CNR, is also involved. WiLab has an existing arrangement with BI-REX; it has been working with TIM and JMA separately, as well as with Huawei.
TIM said the 5G installation will focus on big data, additive manufacturing, robotics, finishing, and metrology; there was also mention in a press release about industrial augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR). The release suggests TIM is already making its public 5G airwaves available at the BI-REX site, and has lent a hand to integrate a 5G-enabled collaborative and autonomous robotics system, for assembly and logistics tasks, into the pilot line.
A statement said: “The [site] becomes a real ‘innovation hub’ where the most advanced technological solutions enabled by 5G are used and where digital transformation professionals in the industrial sector are trained and worked. The pilot line also constitutes an important platform where companies can test before they invest [as per the logic behind the Italian government’s competence centres”.
TIM said it will offer Industry 4.0 training courses at the site, via its TIM Academy. The press note quoted European Commission forecasts that 5G will generate 377,000 new jobs between 2020 and 2025, notably in the manufacturing, services, and retail sectors.
Stefano Cattorini, director at BI-REX, commented: “5G will be a strong enabler for the expansion of markets and services in the coming years, with a key role in the digitization and competitiveness of companies in the development of the country. BI-REX is pleased to present the partnership with TIM… as an essential moment for industrial research and experimental development between universities and companies engaged on our pilot line, the flagship of our Industry 4.0 competence centre for.”