First Commercial 5G Standalone Private Network in Taiwan

  • October 28, 2020
  • William Payne

Taiwanese electronic device manufacturer Inventec has gone live with a fully-virtualised 5G standalone network. The network uses industry spectrum and is deployed in Inventec’s Taoyuan Guishan plant as part of its Smart Manufacturing initiative. The network was implemented by ASOCS, Microsoft subsidiary Affirmed Networks, and Wave-in Communication. The goal of the project is to introduce automation and intelligence to the production line.

The companies involved are claiming this as the first software-only 5G SA network based on industry licensed spectrum, used in a live smart-manufacturing production line, and driving Industry 4.0 benefits.

“The 5G network installed at Inventec Taoyuan is only the first stage of a 5G private network application in our smart factory project leading towards Industry 4.0,” said Dr. Albert Chen, Inventec SVP and project lead. “Our goal is to significantly improve our factory efficiency and reduce manpower by implementing AI-based automatic optical inspection (AOI) in the assembly line. Previously, due to the network limitations, production machines were connected to a local computer to perform AI functions. After deploying a private 5G network provided by ASOCS and Affirmed Networks, we were able to link the production machines to a central server with more data and AI training. As a result, the production line straight-through rate (FPY, First Pass Yield) rose from 70% to over 85%. We already have plans to connect more devices to the 5G network in the smart factory, including an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) that autonomously moves and transports materials, and automated server product testing.”

The 5G Standalone network was deployed by system integrator Wave-in on government-allocated industry spectrum. “We sought a commercial software-based solution that would allow us to run the entire network on Inventec servers,” said Jay Huang, CEO and founder of Wave-in. “Leveraging our expertise in the telecommunication industry, we are currently involved in numerous other 5G private network projects in Taiwan, and after a thorough analysis of possible vendors we selected Affirmed Networks for the 5G Network Core and ASOCS for the 5G RAN. These open, best-of-breed solutions offer straightforward integration and work seamlessly on standard servers without requiring hardware acceleration. ASOCS and Affirmed Networks were also the first to be ready with interoperability with commercial end devices.”

“While much of the industry is still busy with proof-of-concepts in isolated test environments or limited scale trials, we and our partners are focused on creating immediate and tangible value with live 5G SA private networks,” said Gilad Garon, ASOCS chief executive. “There were numerous world-firsts in this project and we had to overcome significant obstacles, however together with a great team from Affirmed Networks, Wave-In and Inventec, we were able to address them and prove the value of 5G and its critical role in the factory of the future. The questions we and the industry had about use cases, value, and feasibility of multi-vendor, software-based networks have been answered.” Garon further notes that “deploying and tuning a 5G network under the challenges of COVID-19 forced us to work remotely, a constraint which demonstrated both the critical importance of a System Integrator such as Wave-In, and the operational advantages of a cloud-based solution.”