Telstra and Ericcson to deploy 5G network to support agri-tech

Telstra and Ericsson have announced that Australian non-profit organization AgriFood Connect will be the first to deploy a private 5G network from the Swedish vendor, focused on industrial IoT (IIoT) in agriculture and manufacturing.

5G is the fifth generation of the mobile network, which enables a new kind of network designed to connect virtually everyone and everything, including machines, objects and devices. 5G mobile technology is expected to deliver higher data speeds of several Gbps at peak, extremely low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, higher availability and a more consistent user experience for more users.

Ericsson said it will combine its private 5G product with Telstra’s network to provide a platform for industrial mobile connectivity that can deliver low latency, improved resilience and capacity.

The vendor added that the deployment of AgriFood Connect is a world first customer for its private 5G product. AgriFood Connect is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote the use of technology in the agriculture and manufacturing industries. It is a joint initiative between Australian engineering firm FKG Group, the University of Queensland and Telstra and was launched to bring together universities, governments, investors, large companies and startups to drive industrial change.

According to Thomas Hall, the deputy CEO of AgriFood Connect, the network will be used to showcase highly advanced technologies for agricultural and manufacturing businesses, and sectors where the organization typically provides support for digital transformation and operational improvements. He said, “Australia’s agriculture and advanced manufacturing industries will play a pivotal role in Australia’s economic growth. We are focussed on supporting businesses in defining their challenges within the agri-food value chain… We identify the right solutions for businesses in areas including digital transformation and operational enhancement. Utilising advanced technologies like the dedicated 5G network will help demonstrate the latest advancement technology innovations.”

Telstra and AgriFood Connect are planning to build on their IIoT work to offer asset monitoring and predictive maintenance for the agriculture sector.

The Ericsson deployment will use an on-site server, allowing sites that are not near data centers to offer advanced services, including video analytics.

Head of Ericsson, Australia and New Zealand, Emilio Romeo, said: “This world first deployment in partnership with Telstra represents an important step towards automation and control through intelligent 5G connectivity. The Ericsson Private 5G platform will enable emerging industrial use cases across multiple verticals such as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), AI, Automation, drone technology, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, and many more innovative 5G use cases made available through Ericsson’s robust Industry 4.0 partner ecosystem.”

Iskra Nikolova, Director of Network and Infrastructure at Telstra, commented, “Challenging locations in regional Australia, where there is comparatively limited backhaul capacity, will greatly benefit from this technology. For example, a remote farming or a manufacturing business could embrace the latest advancements in video analytics and IoT connectivity, almost regardless of their location, with the data processed on site.”

The deal was announced back in January; it was actually followed in Ericsson’s press archives by a new agreement with Deutsche Telekom to underpin its new campus network portfolio, which is based on local 5G infrastructure exclusively for customers’ digital applications. Deutsche Telekom is using Ericsson’s private 5G radio and core network platforms to deploy local campus configurations.

Andrea Nyilas is a Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainability Consultant and a Sustainability and Environmental journalist. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Central European University, in addition to a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the Corvinus University of Budapest. She is particularly interested in circular economy, natural resource management, and waste reduction.