- AT&T and Samsung are partnering on a 5G "Innovation Zone" to test how 5G will impact manufacturing and create the "smart factory" of the future, the companies said in a press statement. The Austin-based site will operate within the Samsung Austin Semiconductor, an advanced semiconductor fabrication facility.
- The Innovation Zone will test several possible use cases, including location services, industrial internet of things (IIoT) sensors to maintain equipment, and the use of 4K video as a sensor for plant security and detection response.
- "This is a first. We’ll be testing the real-world impact 5G will have on the manufacturing industry," said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer of AT&T Business, in a press statement. Katibeh said the work would help create "a future blueprint for people and businesses across all industries."
Telecoms have touted the potential of 5G networks to increase speed and data use for consumers, but the potential benefits go well beyond. Work is underway to test applications for everything from smart grids to health care to connected vehicles (Verizon and Nokia this summer completed a successful trial transmitting a 5G signal to a moving car).
Manufacturers have been eyeing how the technology could work in a factory setting, creating the kind of connected environment to facilitate a fully autonomous operation. For example, 5G transmitters could be used for monitoring environmental conditions like vibrations or temperature (something the AT&T and Samsung partnership is exploring), and to facilitate smart, connected robots to replace manual labor. Jon Taylor, vice president of Manufacturing and Systems Technology at Samsung Austin Semiconductor, told Fierce Wireless he also hopes to explore how 5G can facilitate virtual reality for training.
AT&T is partnering with Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson for 5G hardware and has been exploring applications for internet of things (IoT) and smart cities technology. The telecom says it will launch mobile 5G in 12 cities before the end of the year: Atlanta; Charlotte, NC; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, FL; Louisville, KY; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Raleigh, NC; San Antonio; and Waco, TX.