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Wireless Broadband Alliance and Mettis Aerospace Announce World’s First Wi-Fi 6 Industrial Trial

Published: Apr 17,2019

The Wireless Broadband Alliance has announced the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 Industrial Enterprise and IoT trial, as part of its ongoing Wi-Fi 6 program. Mettis Aerospace will work with WBA members to test several use cases on a Wi-Fi 6 network at its 27-acre West Midlands facility.

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The trial, the first of a series of global trials, will enable the use of augmented reality, real-time monitoring of equipment, and a host of other applications in an enterprise network environment designed to digitize Mettis’ production line. Mettis Aerospace is a key supplier for organizations like Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce.

The Mettis Aerospace environment is challenging from a connectivity perspective, with a large geography to be covered, and industrial radio interference that can disrupt signals. Some applications will require high bandwidth, others low latency and mission critical applications need clear prioritization for data. Wi-Fi 6 is well-positioned to support the provision of cost-effective enterprise-level connectivity in this industrial environment, to these standards using the latest security capabilities.

The West Midlands region, under the leadership of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, was selected to be the UK’s 5G Testbed for manufacturing and security by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. This trial will demonstrate the role that Wi-Fi 6 has to play in the broader 5G ecosystem.

“Wi-Fi 6 is a critical component for the future of connectivity for enterprises, operators and consumers. The work of Mettis Aerospace, the WBA and its members will clearly illustrate the role that Wi-Fi 6 has to play,” said Tiago Rodrigues, General Manager, WBA.

“We’re delighted to be working with Mettis Aerospace and are grateful to the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership for inviting us to collaborate with them to demonstrate the capabilities and promote the convergence of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 in heterogeneous networks. This first trial will serve as an example to industrial manufacturers around the world who are embracing the move to ‘industry 4.0’ about the capabilities to deliver transformation with Wi-Fi 6.”

“We’re delighted to be the first aerospace company to trial Wi-Fi 6. By working with the WBA, we’re able to gain access to dozens of leading vendors and operators in the Wi-Fi arena,” said Dave Green, Head of IT, Mettis Aerospace. “Industrial manufacturers work in incredibly complex environments, which can make cellular technologies challenging to deploy and operate effectively. We believe that Wi-Fi 6 has a significant role to play within the 5G ecosystem, enabling a range of, cost-effective, industrial applications.”

Mark Stansfield, Chair of the Worcestershire LEP, comments: "We see 5G and Wi-Fi 6 as complementary technologies that will revolutionise industry on a regional, national and global scale. We recently announced the UK's first live 5G factory trials in Worcestershire, in a landmark step towards the creation of smart factories, and it's fantastic to also see the world's first Wi-Fi 6 Industrial IoT trial go live in the county. This is an important step in the evolution of next generation technologies that will completely transform UK industry and an important step in establishing Worcestershire as an exemplar for manufacturing best practice for the UK and wider afield."

The trial is being managed by the WBA and Mettis Aerospace, and supported by WBA members including British Telecom, Boingo, Broadcom, BSG Wireless, CableLabs, Cisco, HPE Aruba and Intel. It is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2019.

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