Von Supantha Mukherjee, Kenneth Li
STOCKHOLM / NEW YORK (Reuters) – Verizon announced on Monday that it has signed contracts with Microsoft and Nokia to improve the telecommunications giant’s ability to target business customers by enabling customers to automate factory floors, reduce costs and to accelerate data traffic over private 5G networks.
Private 5G networks eliminate the need for businesses to compete with others on a public network and enable data-intensive applications that use computer vision, augmented reality, and machine learning to improve productivity.
Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing business, runs on Verizon’s 5G network to process the data generated by machines in the on-premises facility and use artificial intelligence to automate operations. Microsoft launched the new service for telecom operators late last month.
US-based logistics company Ice Mobility is the first customer for the new partnership, which will track employees who are packing products in the correct boxes to skip quality control. (wdrv.it/a28ae7c12)
“This is about creating a new business opportunity for everyone,” said Rima Qureshi, Verizon’s chief strategy officer. She declined to disclose how the revenue would be split between Verizon and Microsoft.
While 4G helped build billions of dollars worth of businesses that ranged from streaming music and video to driving cabs to grocery deliveries, telecom operators rarely had a share in that growth.
Verizon is now keen to get involved in any new businesses that 5G could make possible, either through partnerships with larger companies or by buying stakes in smaller companies like virtual reality company 8i in Swiftmile, which makes charging systems for electric scooters.
In international markets where Verizon does not have its own network, the company works with Nokia to build private networks for manufacturing and logistics companies.
“Next year will be all about delivering personal 5G, not commercial success. There will be early monetization from 2022, “Sowmyanarayan Sampath, president of Verizon’s global corporate business, told Reuters.
Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, correspondent for European technology and telecommunications based in Stockholm and Kenneth Li in New York, editing by Andrea Ricci
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