German utility companies to build private 4G network
Energy and water companies in Germany have commissioned Nokia to build them a private 4G network on the 450MHz band.
Nokia has a contract until 2040 – when the 450MHz licence runs out – to build and maintain the system for 450connect, the company that will own the machine-to-machine (M2M) or internet-of-things (IoT) network.
Carsten Ullrich, CEO of 450connect, said: “In view of the major challenges involved in setting up the 450MHz platform, we are pleased to have Nokia as a strong and capable partner at our side for the long-term, with whom we can meet the high technical requirements of our customers as operators of critical infrastructures.”
450connect is owned by major German utilities, including E.ON and – via a separate consortium – EWE Netz, RheinEnergie and SachsenEnergie.
The German regulator, Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA, Federal Network Agency), last year awarded 450connect the licence to run services for utilities on 450MHz until 2040. The low frequency – well below that used by other mobile technology – gives services good coverage into buildings. BNetzA covers energy and water (plus railways) as well as telecoms.
450connect, which also suggests 5G mobile technology will be used, wants to move fast, with test operations this year and the first customers connected in 2023. The nationwide rollout will be complete by 2025, said Nokia.
Dirk Lewandowski, Nokia Enterprise’s VP for Central and East Europe, said: “The task of digitalisation of Germany’s critical infrastructure is of enormous strategic importance. Nokia can make an important contribution to securing this country’s energy supply with our industrial-grade 450MHz private LTE network, especially considering the challenges posed by the energy transition to decarbonisation and decentralisation.”
Nokia will look after the supply of radio system technology for the 450MHz network, including the central technology, radio stations, microwave radio links for the backhaul network, and power back-up systems. It will manage the supply and performance of all LTE components, including maintenance services, until 2040.
Lewandowski said: “We look forward to a trusting and close cooperation with 450connect on this long-term and important project for the Federal Republic of Germany.”
BNetzA retired previous 450MHz licences at the end of 2020, and decide the spectrum would be made available across Germany for critical infrastructure applications for both mobile and fixed users.
The regulator said at the time: “This will help to pave the way for the digitisation of the energy transition, as the spectrum is particularly suitable for use in building a highly available and blackout-resilient nationwide wireless network infrastructure for sectors such as electricity, gas, water and district heating.”
The 450MHz has been little used across the world for many years. From 1981-82 the pioneering NMT analogue mobile cellular network – which today would be called 1G, or first generation – covered Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden on a mixture of 450MHz and 900MHz. Only 350 base stations covered the whole of Sweden, though little bandwidth was available for users.