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Ericsson, O2 and Northumbrian Water trial 5G utility benefits

Ericsson, UK Communications Service Provider O2 and English utility Northumbrian Water are partnering on 5G trials to increase productivity, efficiency and safety in the sector.  

Jan 02, 2020
Man filling a water bottle from a faucet from a tap

Uninterrupted network access and 5G connectivity aims to improve water and sewerage services for almost 2.7 million customers.

Northumbrian Water requires a range of technical skills and competencies in order to manage the logistical challenge of maintaining water and sewerage services across the North East region.

5G-enabled augmented reality (AR) technology will allow experienced technicians to remotely guide on-the-ground teams through complex tasks by relaying real-time data and instructions, creating ‘Remote Experts’. The technology allows multiple experts to join one call simultaneously, adding valuable second opinions.

The rollout of O2’s 5G network, launched in October, is providing faster speeds, lower latency and greater network coverage, enabling businesses such as Northumbrian Water to explore opportunities that will increase productivity, efficiency and safety.

Ericsson and O2 will also create a Private Network Installation for Northumbrian Water to guarantee uninterrupted network access and capacity.

The first set of trials will also focus on three other key areas:

AR Mapping: Using 5G-powered AR to provide a 3D representation of buried assets for technicians. If successful the technology could be extended to cover the layout of over 47,210km of water mains, pipes and conduits and would help engineers manage risks and hazards in real-time.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Management: Allowing field technicians and engineers to quickly access and upload crucial data from NWG’s central GIS database, without requiring a Wi-Fi or cable connection.

Home Water Maintenance App: An app for consumers to monitor their home’s water supply and flow, identifying any unusual patterns to flag potential issues ahead of time.         

The 5G infrastructure for the initial trials will be provided by Ericsson who will install the Private Network solution for Northumbrian Water, including the Ericsson Radio Dot System, to deliver unparalleled indoor 5G coverage and capacity for the trials at the Washington Water Treatment Plant in Tyne and Wear.

Marielle Lindgren, Head of Ericsson UK and Ireland, says: “We are truly excited to be a part of this collaboration with our long-time partner O2, and Northumbrian Water. This trial will demonstrate how 5G can transform operations in the utilities sector, such as water supply and sewerage services, which will positively impact millions of people in the local area. Initiatives like this one are critical to unlocking the true potential of 5G. As the global leader in 5G, we are working with operators and industry partners to identify how this technology can deliver greater productivity and efficiency for businesses in the UK and across the world.”

Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer, O2, says: “When we launched our new network in October, we discussed rolling out 5G to a range of businesses that we are already helping to harness the power of connectivity. Northumbrian Water have been a fantastic advocate for the possibilities of 5G for UK business, and are a great example of how 5G can change the way we do things in the utilities sector and beyond. This is a significant milestone as we bring new capabilities to make real changes in people’s everyday lives.

“We firmly believe 5G will continue to bring major new technological capabilities that will support entirely new business models, sectors, and more efficient ways of working.”

Martin Jackson, Head of Strategy and Enterprise Architecture, Northumbrian Water, says: “5G is set to completely transform the way we live and work, creating exciting new possibilities and improvements for our business, our customers and the environment. This is the first time a trial like this has ever been done by a water company and we’re incredibly proud to be leading the way in the utilities sector. We first explored the ways in which we could harness the power of 5G at our Innovation Festival and we’re delighted to be working with O2 and Ericsson to develop this project and deliver an even better experience to our customers.”