LIVE FROM AT&T BUSINESS SUMMIT – DALLAS, TEXAS: AT&T stepped up its efforts in the manufacturing segment, announcing a new partnership with Samsung to create an industrial 5G testbed at the vendor’s fabrication facility in Texas.

The proving ground will use AT&T 5G wireless technology running over Samsung network equipment including a virtualised core, RAN and routers.

Jonathan Taylor, VP of Production and Systems for Samsung Austin Semiconductor, told Mobile World Live (MWL) the collaboration will explore several applications including the use of 4K video as a sensor to improve plant security; industrial IoT sensors to monitor environmental and equipment conditions; location services to improve safety; and virtual reality for employee training.

“Right now if we do training at our site, we have to take equipment out of production to be able to do that training with our technicians. But with virtual reality, we should be able to provide that same high-quality training in that virtual environment and still leave our equipment in production, maintaining our productivity.”

In addition to helping cut costs and improve efficiency, Taylor noted the solutions could also help increase product quality.

“Semiconductor manufacturing has to be extremely precise. So the data that we can get monitoring equipment speed, or vibration, or temperature, or pressure in the environment, and the understanding of that data we can get through analytics, will hopefully help us make some really good solutions to maintain process control and provide the quality our customers require.”

Smart production
In a keynote address, AT&T Business CEO Thaddeus Arroyo touted the testbed as a showcase of the “cutting edge of wireless technology” which will “pave the way for the future of connected factories.”

And Wilf Norrlinger, VP of Samsung Electronics America’s Networks Division, told MWL the results of the trial could help propel applications beyond manufacturing: “Those key elements that make 5G valuable will be put to the test here and we hope to come out of the chute with some really compelling use cases. That could set the stage for other things, like smart cities.”

“I hope what we’re doing here in the smart factory will push some of those other use cases forward.”