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Vilicom to build Britain’s first private LTE network for Scottish off shore windfarm

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Scotland's offshore Moray East wind farm will showcase green power, open RAN and private LTE network

UK system integrator Vilicom and US telco software Mavenir are to build an open RAN based private LTE network for the Moray East wind farm off the north east coast of Scotland. 

The combination of open radio access network (open RAN) and LTE in an off-shore private network is a first for the UK.

Like all de-coupled open systems Mavenir’s virtualised (software-based) MAVair open RAN can run on any computer, which means the project can save money by using commodity radio hardware. The cheap hardware and specialised software combination will be the foundation for LTE connectivity with the sea vessels and workers building the wind farm.

The wind powered electricity turbines farm could generate 40 per cent of the total electricity demand in Scotland, according to Mavenir. That would mean powering 950,000 homes out of Scotland’s 2.64 million dwellings. The new private LTE network will connect construction workers and engineers with video calls and emails whilst they are working and travelling at sea. The network is also intended for the isolated workers to communicate with their friends and family and access leisure services.

Consultant and systems integrator Vilicom is in charge of the contract and designed the overall system, which is a departure from its mainstream work involving indoor and outdoor cellular systems. “Building efficiencies into the construction and operations of a wind-farm is a challenge without superfast and reliable connectivity,” said Vilicom chief executive Sean Keating. 

Comms platforms as a service to 5G

This latest project highlights the relevance and importance of advanced communications in a real application scenario, according to Stefano Cantarelli, chief marketing officer at Mavenir. 

This month Mavenir announced the purchase of fellow Texan network specialist Telestax, a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) provider and application developer. Comms platforms will be deal makers for service providers, said Mavenir president Pardeep Kohli. They provide interfaces to verticals such as IoT, smart cities and the automotive sector, said Kohli. This “unlocks the enterprise value of 5G” by enabling “turnkey apps for logistics, fleet management, AI and ML chatbots, voice biometrics verification, immersive commerce and entertainment and many other use cases,” said Kophli.

451 Research says the total revenue for CPaaS market will rise $6.5 billion in 2020 and $21 billion in 2025.