Vodafone Business has partnered with American automotive giant Ford to install a private 5G network at the car maker's E:PriME (Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering) facility on Ford's Dunton Campus in Essex.
The upgrade at Ford's facility will enable the firm to replace the older Wi-Fi networks and to produce electric vehicle (EV) components at faster pace.
The project is part of a £65 million investment in 5G technology by the government. Earlier this year, the British government had provided £2m for a 5G pilot trial at the Ford's facility.
Ford and Vodafone Business currently lead a British consortium that is testing how high-speed private 5G networks can improve EV production at two linked sites in Essex and Cambridge.
The Cambridge site belongs to welding research specialists TWI, and the private 5G network will enable the two sites to team up on welding electric batteries.
In a statement, Vodafone said that the new 5G network will provide more accurate manufacturing control and analysis, while generating nearly half a million pieces of data every minute for a single EV product.
The installation of private network is expected to be completed by September. Then, it will be used link Ford's site with TWI site, allowing them to jointly work on welding electric batteries.
Ford says it will primarily focus on the connectivity of the welding machines in the manufacture of EVs. More than 1,000 welds are required in batteries and electric motors within an EV.
"It is really significant in anchoring that manufacturing capability in the UK," said Chris White, manager of the 5GEM project for Ford.
"We are not making any kind of promises or commitment in that respect but the funding we have received is about that capability."
In July last year, it emerged that Ford was building its own LTE/5G network to test connected cars in a private environment. The car maker filed a request with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to build a test network in the spectrum band.
The filing disclosed that Ford's network would operate in the 3.5GHz CBRS band and use equipment from Ericsson, Juniper, and Dell.
In the filing the company only said that by building a private LTE/5G network, it wants to gain experience "with installation and operation of a private cellular network for connected vehicle services."
Also last year, Ford and creators of the Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC) Autonomic signed a multi-year agreement with Amazon Web Services to expand the availability of cloud connectivity services and connected car application development services for the transportation industry.
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