5G is the next generation of cellular technology, and it is going to change the way we use the internet. Not only will 5G be faster than 4G, but it will also be more reliable and efficient. This makes it a perfect choice for businesses that need a fast, reliable connection for their operations. In recent years, we have seen a surge in the number of companies choosing to build their own private 5G networks. For example, at the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, the global Private 5G Network market was estimated to be valued at USD 924.4 million and continues to grow at a staggering CAGR of 40.9%.
(Image source: Polaris Market Research)
Another recent study by Economist Impact and NTT that surveyed 216 C-Suite level executives found that half of the companies surveyed plan to deploy a private 5G network within the next six months to two years.
(Image source: Economist Impact 2021)
But why are the driving factors and conditions? How will companies go about building these networks? What is needed? What are the benefits and potential roadblocks?
What is Private 5G?
Private cellular networks have been around for a long time, but they are usually only used by large organizations like the military or enterprises with critical infrastructure. These private networks are designed to be isolated from the public network and offer a higher level of security and control.
Telecom operators are rolling out Public 5G for users worldwide. In contrast, Private 5G is a specialized network that businesses use to take advantage of its low latency, high availability, complete control, and enhanced personalization to promote Industry 4.0 adoption more quickly.
Private 5G Market Growth Drivers
The arrival of the Covid-19 epidemic and its subsequent recurrence in the form of second-wave and third-wave across parts of the globe compelled firms to embrace private 5G adoption because of the network’s inherent advantages. Private 5G enables low latency, high bandwidth, improved video quality, and remote sensing for virtually all verticals, effectively utilized in remote working.
As a result, businesses use private 5G to fulfill the criteria established by the post-pandemic new normal scenario, which sped up the global adoption of private 5G.
Organizations with critical communications and industrial IoT (Internet of Things) needs—such as national security organizations, the military, utilities, oil and gas businesses, mining associations, train and port operators, manufacturers, and industrial behemoths—are investing heavily in private LTE networks.
Industry 4.0 has given rise to a new generation of industrial robots that are smarter, more adaptable, and increasingly automated. Various primary industrial operations such as Siemens AG, ABB Ltd., and Mercedes-Benz AG have made significant use of sensor-based technology and industrial robotics to improve operational efficiency and productivity. The private 5G network is essential for delivering seamless and secure Internet access to Industrial IoT (IIoT) devices.
Also read: 5G and AI: Ushering in New Tech Innovation
Benefits of Private 5G
Private cellular networks offer many advantages over public networks, the most important being security, control, and customization.
- Security: A private network is designed to be isolated from the public network, which offers a higher level of security. This is because a private network can be designed with security features that are not possible on a public network. For example, a private network can be designed so that only authorized devices can connect to it.
- Control: Another advantage of a private cellular network is that it offers complete control to the network owner. The network owner can decide who can access the network and what type of traffic is allowed on the network.
- Personalization and customization: A private cellular network also offers enhanced personalization and customization options. For example, the network owner can choose to allow only certain types of devices to connect to the network or create a custom profile for each user.
- High speeds, ultra-low latency, and application support: Private cellular networks offer high speeds (1-20 Gbit/s) and low latency (1 ms), essential for applications requiring real-time data. In addition, private 5G networks can be designed to support specific applications. For example, a private network can be designed to support video conferencing or VoIP calls.
- Increased number of devices: Private 5G networks can support a high number of devices on the network. For example, due to the enhanced bandwidth, spotty Wi-Fi service in a crowded office will become a thing of the past.
Potential Roadblocks of Private 5G
The cost associated with building and maintaining a private cellular network is one of the main roadblocks companies face. To build a private 5G network, businesses must buy spectrum from the government, mobile network operators, or third-party spectrum vendors. In addition, they must obtain 5G equipment such as base stations and mini-towers from network infrastructure vendors. They also require edge devices such as routers, smartphones, embedded modules, routers, and gateways.
In addition, building out a private 5G infrastructure comes with some technical challenges. Businesses need to have expertise in-house to design and manage the network. One of the main barriers is integrating 5G with legacy systems and networks.
Another potential roadblock is that businesses may not be able to get access to the same spectrum as they would on a public network.
Proprietary technologies and the lack of standards can also be a challenge for businesses when setting up a private network. This is because there is no one-size-fits-all solution for setting up a private network. Instead, each company will need to tailor its solution based on its specific needs.
However, even with these challenges, a private 5G network is the best option for businesses that need high security, ultra-low latency, control, customization, and need to support numerous devices.
Getting Started with Private 5G
Getting started with a private cellular network requires careful planning and execution. Organizations need to carefully assess their requirements and objectives before embarking on this journey. They also need to partner with experienced vendors who can help them navigate these challenges successfully.
Due to the challenges of rolling out and managing private 5G networks, many organizations prefer to use a managed services provider. A managed services provider (MSP) can help businesses with end-to-end planning, design, deployment, and private network management.
Companies like Cisco and Ericsson are blazing the trail in this regard. In addition, such managed private 5G services take the complexity out of building and managing a private network. This is good news for businesses that want to reap the benefits of private cellular networks without investing in the necessary resources and expertise.
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