Based on a partnership initially announced in February 2022, Kyndryl and Nokia now tally 100 “active engagements” around private 5G and 4G networks, as well as mobile edge computing (MEC) technologies, for enterprises. To further accelerate adoption of cellular-backed Industry 4.0 solutions, the duo have extended and expanded the arrangement, and are working with security specialist Palo Alto Networks to open a “partner innovation lab” in the U.S.
According to the companies, 90% of those engagements—which span “from advisory or testing, to piloting, to full implementation”—are with manufacturing firms. Take, for instance, 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 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.
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).”
Savill continued: “Our end goal is to drive innovation for customers, and as such, we work to guide our customers and active engagements on securing both licensed and unlicensed spectrum – depending on their preference and where unlicensed spectrum is available. We are seeing the strongest private wireless traction in countries and markets where unlicensed spectrum is available, and continue to work with mobile network operators as well.”
To the security piece, Kyndryl, Nokia and Palo Alto Networks will set up a collaborative lab in Raleigh, North Carolina. A key piece is using “a multi-factor zero trust model for industrial networking.”
Nokia Head of Global Enterprise Business Chris Johnson said in a statement that the two companies “have a shared vision for digital transformation…The two companies are currently exploring and developing new, integrated solutions and services for edge, cloud, IP, networking, optics, fixed access, 4G and 5G core and network operations software technologies, which can address the growing demand for mission-critical, industrial-grade wireless networking.”
Private 5G and 4G, and attendant technologies like MEC, have been billed by carriers as a main vector for 5G service revenue growth. But, given challenges around solution development, go to market, and the notion that large enterprises in many industrialized countries can directly access spectrum, that hasn’t exactly materialized on the time scale many industry watchers expected.
Another angle here is a lack of vertical- or application-specific devices; that gap is largely attributable to a lack of compatible silicon.
For more on the Kyndryl/Nokia tie up with a focus on how this particular channel has developed, along with more commentary from Savill, read this piece fromRCR Wireless News Editor James Blackman.