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Thales, Ericsson and EDF deploy secure private mobile networks at nuclear energy plants across France

  • Thales and Ericsson partner with EDF to bring mobile broadband connectivity to French nuclear sites, both in production and under deconstruction
  • With this roll out, EDF is leading the deployment of secure private 4G networks on this scale both in France and internationally
  • Successful pilot implementation at the Blayais nuclear site represents the first step in a deployment that will cover all EDF nuclear power plants in France.

EDF, Thales and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) have partnered on CONNECT, a project to bring secure cellular connectivity to all of EDF’s nuclear energy sites in France. Thales, a leader in network design and operation, is deploying secure communications services while also guaranteeing the overall system integration and secure networking. Ericsson is providing innovative 4G private network solutions as well as the core network, to ensure high-performance connectivity, resilience, and security.

Due to the specific needs of the energy giant, cybersecurity is a key element of this collaboration and has been integrated into every step of deployment.

Facilitating the work of the operational teams

The new private network solution will enhance site performance, maintenance, operations, and logistics.

Enhanced connectivity, for example, will allow EDF employees and their partners to have remote access to all business documentation, while also allowing support from back-office experts via secure terminals. It will also allow EDF employees and their partners to have remote access via secure terminals to all business documentation, while also allowing support from back-office experts. And thanks to the private network, on-site workers will have easy access to a centralized information system, which will boost performance and agility, alongside enhancing personal security. Maintenance will also be simplified through the seamless sharing and exchange of data.

The new network infrastructure has been purpose built for EDF, ensuring that the specific needs of the nuclear power provider, such as scalability, flexibility, and cybersecurity are in place. An evolution towards 5G is possible in the long term.

Blayais pilot: start of a national project in France

The first nuclear plant to benefit from the CONNECT project is Blayais. After a successful joint pilot, the connectivity solution at the Blayais site is now being operated independently by EDF. Rollout of the solution to EDF’s other power plants is scheduled for 2021 at a rate of two to four plants per year.

Bruno Suty, Director of Information Systems and Digital at EDF Group’s Nuclear and Thermal Production Division, says: “The CONNECT project enables the integration of new use cases linked to the digital transition in our production units, including in the industrial field. The deployment of this secure 4G network really enables us to improve performance and efficiency. The access and transmission of data in real time, including in nuclear zones, and the clustering of applications on a single terminal will considerably simplify the work of teams in the field.”

Jean-Claude Schmitt, Vice President, Networks and Infrastructure Systems at Thales, says: “Thales is delighted to be able to contribute to France’s excellence of EDF thanks to the CONNECT project. With recognized expertise and world-class equipment, Thales combines its know-how with the innovation and performance of the French SMB ecosystem to provide a secure, fully integrated system that meets our customers’ specific needs.”

Åsa Tamsons, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Technologies and New Businesses, Ericsson, says: “Critical national infrastructure requires high-level performance and trust, so we are very pleased at Ericsson to be working on such an important rollout alongside EDF and Thales. Ericsson’s private network solutions are a robust platform that unlock huge benefits for industries with unrivalled security. Our networks allow for a natural upgrade to 5G, so we can keep innovating alongside EDF for tomorrow.”