Verizon wins first 5G contract for UK freeport

Solent Freeport is expected to have an upgraded network for July

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American carrier Verizon Communications has won its first industrial 5G deal in Europe securing a deal with Associated British Ports (ABP) to supply an upgraded wireless system at one of the UK's new freeports. 

Verizon will build and run a next-generation private wireless system in Southampton. The network will leverage Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud solution.

Southampton is one of several, post-Brexit, low-tariff coastal business zones that will be created following last month's Budget. The Port of Southampton is currently responsible for £40bn in UK exports each year.

Speaking on a video call announcing the decision, chief executive officer of ABP Henrik Pedersen said: "We chose Verizon simply due to [its] track record of setting up private 5G networks. 5G is not regional or local, its is global.

“There’ll be a lot of need for data transfer in the freeport zone, especially when you start to move goods in and out of the customs zones. [Our] 5G network will enable new systems [including] drones that can transmit high-definition video for maintenance checks and send live shipping data."

It is expected that the Solent Freeport private network will be operational by July with the rest of ABP’s 21 UK ports "likely to tender [for] 5G networks in the future".

Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business, said: “Businesses such as ABP, are coming under more pressure to evolve their services at tremendous speeds in order to take advantage of new commercial opportunities.

"Along with Nokia, we have been able to equip ABP to take advantage of the immediate benefits offered by private 5G, and most importantly, prepare the [Solent] port to take full advantage of new technology applications and real-time analytics which will digitally transform its services in the future."

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