Skip navigation
City view at night time

The Network on Wheels

Ericsson and Verizon partner to bring connectivity wherever it’s needed

No network? No problem.

The Network on Wheels brings connectivity wherever it’s needed.

Ericsson and Verizon have been partners in bringing 5G to businesses and communities across the U.S. We’re used to being asked to think outside the box to deliver high speed broadband in demanding circumstances. This case study, however, is about the time we were asked to think inside the box. Together with Verizon, we developed the Network on Wheels, a portable 5G network.

The Network on Wheels (NOW) fits all the technology of a 5G network into a compact package that can, literally, be built in the lab, put on a van or an airplane and wheeled to nearly anywhere a network is needed. NOW was first developed to demonstrate the power of 5G in a remote event venue in Hawaii. Today, it’s bringing fast connectivity, with low latency, to major convention halls, racetracks, sports arenas, universities, industrial facilities, autonomous vehicle test centers and more.

With 38 NOWs already deployed worldwide and more in development, this Ericsson-Verizon collaboration has moved from proof-of-concept to commercial application. Battle-tested in the real world, Ericsson’s NOW is finding a multitude of new use cases in manufacturing, IoT, healthcare, retail, entertainment and news media. NOW is ready to deliver networks nearly anywhere, any time.


A network that goes anywhere. Watch to video (2:52) to discover the Network on Wheels.

“Building a network is actually a complex thing, but with Network on Wheels, we have pre integrated all the necessary configurations and put them into a box on wheels. It's so easy to deploy. We can simply plug the Network on Wheels into a standard wall outlet and press the power button. And the network comes up, ready in a few hours.” — Blaze Vincent, Senior Manager, 5G Ecosystem, Ericsson

The challenge

It all began when Verizon came to Ericsson with an opportunity—and a challenge. A client holding an exhibition in Hawaii wanted a 5G network in their venue for live demonstrations. A common enough request. Except in this paradisaic spot, there was no network and little technology at all that the team could utilize. The space they offered for the equipment was literally a closet. And the network had to be up and running in just a few weeks.

“We took out our measuring tape and measured the width of the door. We needed something that could be wheeled down a hallway, carried up a staircase by two people and then fit through a narrow utility closet doorway.” - Bill Goodman, Head of ecosystem & business development, Customer Unit Verizon, Ericsson

The solution

Ericsson and Verizon drew on their long history of partnership to assemble a crack joint team to design this new mobile innovation. Using the latest technology and expertise honed in building 5G networks—plus a little ingenuity—the Ericsson-Verizon team put all the functionality of a 4G and 5G network into a kit that fit into that utility closet while providing all the requirements of the event.

The event organizer was so impressed with the performance, they immediately asked to book the NOW for their next event in Las Vegas, which happened to be one of the most significant consumer electronic shows in the world.

What is a Network on Wheels (NOW)?
A Network on Wheels is a fully functional 4G and 5G network, installed in a box with wheels. This box can be rolled into labs, into events and into customer locations and simply plugged into the wall to bring up a fully functional 5G network. The system includes the Ericsson baseband, a router and servers running the software. A Network on Wheels provides the full, functional radio network, core network, transport network and the management system for the network. It can be customized for the specific requirements of the location, event and application.

Use cases

5G turbocharges the Penske Indianapolis 500 racing team

In a competition where milliseconds count, Team Penske enlisted the Network on Wheels 5G network to help reclaim their spot in the winner's circle of the Indy 500. Gaining the edge at the Indy 500 depends on a team’s ability to track data and act on it rapidly. Previously, Team Penske had to spend a few days running cables to different locations around the track where they could place the cameras. This was expensive and time consuming. Worse, the number of places they could place the cameras was limited.

This time, Verizon's 5G network powered by Ericsson's NOW was deployed at the racetrack. Team Penske was able to place cameras wherever they wanted. They could add a greater number of cameras and take more angles of shots. A NOW connected the cameras from the track site back into the production center. The cameras wirelessly streamed high-definition videos to the production center so the engineers could analyze them in real time and give instructions to the drivers while they were still on the track. This was a tremendous improvement in communication between the drivers and the track side team.

Speedway Track

Connecting the red carpet

NOW earned the spotlight at another event, this one a red-carpet event where viewers were more likely to recognize Prada than Penske. With fierce competition for scoops, a major newspaper needed a better way to handle the thousands of pictures their photographers would be sending over the network to their cloud. NOW provided the innovative solution, enabling them to dramatically increase the number of images going over the network, into the cloud and ultimately to their readers.

Person driving connected car vehicle

Making the streets safer

On the racetrack, 5G can make the difference between gold or silver. On a real street, when the car is autonomous, connectivity could mean the difference between life and death. The University of Michigan's Mcity is a groundbreaking test center for cutting-edge smart vehicle technology. It's a mock town, complete with streets, intersections, stop signs and lights. Verizon and Ericsson are working with UMich and automotive industry researchers to provide the extremely low-latency, high-performance NOW for their connected and autonomous vehicle testing.

Smart factory in the US

Putting the “smart” in a smart factory

One of the most interesting deployments for the joint Ericsson-Verizon team is Ericsson's recently opened USA 5G Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas, where 5G radios are manufactured. This LEED Gold and Zero Carbon certified sustainable factory runs on a 5G private network solution based on a Network on Wheels. Thanks to the fast, low-latency network, the autonomous guided vehicles that deliver parts to the various assembly locations no longer have to follow a painted line on the floor. They can now talk to each other. In addition, a technician can look at any aspect of the production with augmented reality glasses, untethered, and make adjustments as needed.

The Network on Wheels in action

“What I like about Ericsson is that they have a global footprint. When they approach innovation challenges, they are sincerely trying to do good, to deliver something to society that wasn't there.” — Abraham Arencibia, Director of Technology Development, Verizon