Following their first partnership one year ago, Nokia and Kyndryl have extended it for three years after acquiring more than 100 customers for automating factories using 4G/5G private wireless networks as well as multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies. Nokia is one of the few companies that have been able to get any traction in the private 4G/5G business which is expected to grow by billions of dollars every year. The size of the global private 5G network market is expected to reach $41.02 billion by 2030 from 1.38 billion in 2021, according to a study by Grand View Research.
The companies said some customers were now coming back to put private networks into more of their factories after the initial one. “We grew the business significantly last year with the number of customers and number of networks,” Chris Johnson, head of Nokia’s enterprise business, told Reuters.
According to the companies, 90% of those engagements—which span “from advisory or testing, to piloting, to full implementation”—are with manufacturing firms. In Dow Chemical’s Freeport, Texas, manufacturing facility which is leveraging a private LTE network using CBRS frequencies to cover 40 production plants over 50-square-kilometers. The private wireless network increased worker safety, enabled remote audio and video collaboration, personnel tracking, and vehicle telematics, the companies said. Dow Chemical is now planning to expand the same coverage to dozens of its factories, said Paul Savill, Kyndryl’s [1.] global practice leader. “Our pipeline has been growing fundamentally faster than it has been in the last 12 months,” he said. “We now have over 100 customers that we’re working with in the private wireless space … in around 24 different countries.”
Note 1. After getting spun off from IBM in 2021, Kyndryl has focused on building its wireless network business and has signed several agreements with cloud providers.
The current active engagements are across more than 24 countries, including markets like the U.S. where regulators have set aside spectrum assets for direct use by enterprises; this means it’s increasingly possible for buyers to access spectrum without the involvement of mobile network operators.
“As enterprises seek to accelerate and deliver on their journeys towards Industry 4.0 and digitalization, the effective integration and deployment of advanced LTE and 5G private wireless networking technologies becomes instrumental to integrate all enterprise operations in a seamless, reliable, efficient and built in a secure manner,” said Alejandro Cadenas, Associate Vice President of Telco and Mobility Research at IDC. “This expanding, powerful, relationship between Nokia and Kyndryl is a unique combination of vertical and horizontal capabilities, and offers IT, OT and business leaders access to the innovation, tools, and expert resources they need to digitally transform their operations. The partnership offers a compelling shared vision and execution that will enable customers across all industries and geographies to access the ingredients they need to deliver against the promise of digital acceleration, powered by network and edge computing.”
The expanded effort will be enhanced with Kyndryl’s achievement of Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) Advanced accreditation status, which helps ensure that enterprise customers benefit from an expanded lineup of expert resources and skilled practitioners who have extensive training and deep understanding of Nokia products and solutions. In addition, customers will gain access to Kyndryl’s accelerated network deployment capabilities and support of Nokia cellular radio expertise in selected markets.
In response to a question about how direct enterprise access to spectrum has informed market-by-market activity, Kyndryl Global Practice Leader of Network and Edge Paul Savill told RCR Wireless News in a statement, “Spectrum availability is rapidly becoming less of a barrier, with governments allocating licensed spectrum for industrial use and the emergence of unlicensed wireless networking options (such as CBRS in the US, and MulteFire).”
The companies have also developed automated industrial drones that can monitor a site with different kinds of sensors such as identifying chemicals and video recognition as part of surveillance. While drones have not yet been deployed commercially yet, customers are showing interest in rugged, industrialized non-stop automated drone surveillance, Johnson said.