Telia and Ericsson have announced the launch of NorthStar, a 5G innovation scheme for industrial enterprises, which will initially focus on the automotive and transportation sectors. NorthStar’s first customer is AstaZero, a test circuit near Gothenburg for automated transport systems. AstaZero is owned and run by national research organisation RISE, which is working in partnership with Volvo, Scania and Qualcomm’s Veoneer.

NorthStar will provide tools and resources that industrial business need, such as network slicing and positioning, and the secure and reliable connectivity to develop new applications. NorthStar’s 5G network uses Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core, and connects to Telia’s existing public 5G network, so that organisations using NorthStar’s 5G system will have fast connectivity over broad geographical areas. Customers will also be able to build their own networks at their own locations, such as test sites and R&D facilities, and connect them to the NorthStar network.

AstaZero CEO Peter Janevik said the combination of one open and one closed network makes it possible to advance both research and development testing. A self-driving truck can undergo research tests in the closed network of AstaZero’s FLX Zone, simulating operations at a harbour or logistics centre. After leaving the FLX Zone, the truck would transition to the public network, just as it would when leaving the closed area, but would remain in the safe confines of the AstaZero Proving Ground.

Anders Olsson, CEO at Telia Sweden, said that scaling up digital methods and turning new products into tangible business benefits is critical for those companies and Sweden as a nation to remain competitive. Erik Ekudden, SVP and CTO at Ericsson, said NorthStar aims to be a catalyst to developing Sweden as a leading industrial nation.

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