Private wireless network set to automate logistics infrastructure

Artificial intelligence devices will be connected across the network to increase supply chain efficiency in Utah. (Utah Inland Port Authority)

Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA), a state corporation chartered to develop and oversee logistics infrastructure, is building a private LTE/5G network to support its statewide logistics system. Its partners in the project include Intel, Athonet, QuayChain and Wireless Industrial Group.

Intel is providing edge compute solutions, Athonet delivers the core network, and QuayChain, an Intel-backed startup, equips vehicles and devices with wireless tracking systems. A spokesperson for the project said the companies have not yet selected a radio vendor for the network. Wireless Industrial Group is the systems integrator for the project.

The project is called the Intelligent Crossroads Network (ICN), and the partners are calling it "the world’s first private LTE/5G network dedicated to the supply chain."

“We are finalizing the initial coverage area and solutions for Intelligent Cross Network with the long-term objective of expanding the ICN across Utah," said Jill Flygare, UIPA COO. 

Initially, the private network will use CBRS spectrum, with plans to explore the use of other spectrum bands for expansion.

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Jack Hedge, executive director of UIPA, described the Utah private network as a way to combine “world-class connectivity” with artificial intelligence to increase efficiency.

UIPA also expects the network to create new logistics jobs in the state. According to the company, 36% of wages earned in Utah come from logistics-dependent industries.

“The challenges in the global supply chain over the last two years has highlighted the need for new approaches that address both business and environmental objectives without any trade-offs," said QuayChain Technologies CEO Andrew Scott. "QuayChain will enable the ICN and Utah’s supply chain to truly democratize data and power new partnerships and solutions, including automated vehicles, equipment, visibility, and fintech.”

Intel said in a statement the UIPA network will increase efficiency for the supply chain while reducing Utah’s carbon footprint. “This collaboration across the ecosystem will help catalyze wider digital transformation and address vital environmental and community needs,” said Caroline Chan, Intel VP of network and edge and GM of Intel's network business incubator division.

Chan recently penned a blog post forecasting "endless opportunities" for private networks. The chipmaker expects enterprise deployments in warehouses, factories, educational institutions, campuses, sports areas and retail locations. Chan cited research from IDC, predicting the market for 5G/LTE private network infrastructure will be worth $5.7 billion by 2024.