LONDON — As the U.S. ramps ups its trade war rhetoric, European companies have been busy this week signing mega-partnership deals with China for industrial IoT, network infrastructure, 5G and AI research.  

Siemens will partner with Alibaba for a big push on industrial automation and IoT, while Nokia agreed to work with China Mobile to deliver next generation network infrastructure as well as establish a joint 5G and AI research center in China.

The deals were part of a number of commercial agreements signed by the German and Chinese governments totaling around $24 billion at the Sino-German Economic Forum in Germany.

Joe Kaeser, president and CEO of Siemens AG and Simon Hu, president of Alibaba Cloud, signed a memorandum of understanding in Berlin under the witness of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his official visit to Germany.

Siemens and Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, are to partner to foster the industrial internet of things (IIoT) in China. The two companies will leverage each other's technology and industry resources to build a unique IoT solution to support China’s Industrie 4.0 ambitions to transform and upgrade manufacturing and other industrial internet initiatives.

"This cooperation is a landmark deal for bringing Industrie 4.0-solutions to China as the world's powerhouse of manufacturing. Our customers will be able to unlock the potential of the industrial internet of things with MindSphere now also on the leading Chinese cloud platform," Kaesar said through a press statement.

MindSphere is Siemens' cloud-based, open IoT operating system that delivers a wide range of device and enterprise connectivity options, robust applications, advanced analytics, and closed-loop innovation with complete digital twin solutions. The companies say the implementation of MindSphere on Alibaba Cloud will provide compelling services for companies in China mainland to innovate with advanced industrial solutions.

Under the MoU, both companies will begin collaborating immediately and intend to make MindSphere on Alibaba Cloud available in 2019.

Nokia To Build Networks and Partner for 5G + AI Research

Meanwhile, Nokia and China Mobile also signed a one-year agreement valued at up to $1.17  billion to support the Chinese mobile operator's transition to a future-oriented network infrastructure, while providing seamless connectivity to more efficiently meet growing data traffic demand.

The agreement was also signed at Sino-German Economic Forum by Li Huidi, vice president of China Mobile, and Hans-Jürgen Bill, executive vice president and chief human resources officer of Nokia and also chairman of the board of directors of Nokia Networks GmbH & Co KG in Germany.

Under the agreement, Nokia will provide China Mobile with end-to-end technology solutions to enable a next-generation network for the age of the cloud and machine communications. Nokia will provide additional elements of its mobile radio access and core portfolio in addition to fixed access, IP routing and optical transport, customer experience management, as well as its services expertise.

The frame agreement builds on a longstanding relationship between Nokia and China Mobile in developing, trialing and deploying new technologies to enable seamless cloud connectivity and faster, more affordable internet access, meeting new demand while evolving networks for the future.

Going forward, Nokia and China Mobile will work closely to define the products and services that will enable the operator to explore new opportunities in vertical markets. Nokia and China Mobile have also signed a memorandum of understanding for research and testing of the AI and machine-learning capabilities of next-generation networks for the delivery of intelligent network optimization and radio resource management.

The companies will jointly establish a laboratory in Hangzhou, China to develop the demo system to verify technology use cases using Nokia 5G Future X architecture, while China Mobile will lead the research in terms of scenario selection, requirements confirmation, open API standardization and solution definition.

At the new laboratory, Nokia and China Mobile will foster an open RAN and 5G ecosystem working with third parties to leverage AI and machine learning and optimize networks for the delivery of services such as cloud virtual reality gaming. The companies' research will use the Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN, AirFrame OpenRack, open edge server and ReefShark chipsets, as well as Nokia-developed AI middleware to access embedded intelligence. Nokia and China Mobile will also conduct technology field trials and demonstrations.

"China Mobile has been paying attention to the application of artificial intelligence for a long time, and making an effort to build an open and collaborative 5G+AI ecosystem," said Yuhong Huang, deputy general manager of China Mobile Research Institute.

— Nitin Dahad is a European correspondent for EE Times.