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Are Private 5G Enterprise Networks Truly Ready for Prime Time?

By Matthew Vulpis

Enterprises today are quickly recognizing that recent data-centric emerging technologies will need a next-generation scalable connectivity network, and an increasing number are starting to leverage 5G technology to adequately handle the innovative devices and applications. More specifically, enterprises are turning to private 5G networks, which gives them the ability to customize the network according to specific organizational needs and locations, securely and on their timetable.

Private 5G networks, much like public 5G, have the potential to dramatically improve security, bandwidth, and speed, but on an enterprise scale. Unlike general-purpose public networks, private 5G networks are designed with a specific purpose, enabling enterprises to be in control of their destiny in terms of partners, features, and connectivity. This helps enterprises venture into low-latency use cases such as IoT, AR/VR, and robotics, with complete control over data, security, and networks.

Private 5G networks have been gaining momentum in the U.S. with the evolution of 5G technology and the availability of spectrum needed to leverage 5G private networks. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission began offering 100MHz of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, the 3.45GHz-to-3.55GHz range, by auctioning it off in 10MHz blocks last year.

The global private 5G network market size is estimated to reach USD 14.28 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 39.7 percent between now and then. On top of this, Deloitte predicts that, over the next decade, hundreds of thousands of companies will deploy private 5G networks.

“While the growth of private 5G is substantial, there are challenges associated with private 5G that is deterring some enterprises from adoption,” said Roy Timor-Rousso, Chief Revenue Officer at Pente Networks, which provides enterprise LTE/5G Mobile Core & Orchestration Layer solutions. “For example, private 5G presents what can be a costly endeavor for enterprises who are not as familiar with operating wireless compared to wireline networks. Without a solid plan and proven hardware and software elements, as well as regulatory requirements, 5G installation, monitoring, and ongoing management is challenging, and every deployment needs to be strategized and planned before investing. That said, with the right partners, there are far fewer risks, and tremendous operating and economic benefits.”

A report published last year by NTT Security found that the most common barrier to deploying private 5G networks is integrating the technology with legacy systems and networks. The complexity surrounding the deployment and management of private 5G networks is also cited as another significant barrier by 37 percent of respondents, while employees lacking the technical skills and expertise to manage 5G networks is the third most common barrier facing 30 percent of firms.

These complexities, while discouraging some enterprises from adopting private 5G, is not stopping all organizations from taking on the process in order to reap the benefits,” Timor-Rousso explained. “The key to success is to combine deep knowledge of telecom and enterprise solutions, with experience in building mobile network supporting business applications, tapping into leading system integrators, service providers, and equipment manufacturers who are focused on delivering end-to-end, wireless communications solutions proven in the field already. We have rolled out dozens of private enterprise wireless networks and the resulting guaranteed latency, security, and quality of experience has been profound. Advanced enterprises, especially those that are distributed, dependent on the edge, and investing in digital transformation using IoT, AR/VR, AI, and automated systems, understand from experience that moving to a cloud-based wireless networking model is essential. Innovations are often impossible when wires are required.”

For those that are succeeding in deployment, practical use cases are already being found across a variety of industries.  For example, private 5G can play a critical part in the healthcare industry, helping save lives in hospitals and in the field Timor-Rousso explained.

“The high reliability of 5G could make it easier to ensure access to improved mobile connectivity for safety critical equipment as it moves around facilities, as well as connectivity for equipment being used by first responders during disaster recovery,” he said. “Trends and anomalies that would otherwise go unnoticed could lead to improvements in patient safety and outcomes.”

Another industry where private 5G can be essential today is manufacturing, where factories have a wide range of wired and wireless networking infrastructure.

“Private 5G is positioned to play a key role in improving the density and performance of robotics, autonomous vehicles, and other automation technologies in the factory,” Timor-Rousso said. “This will be critical for enabling robots to work closer to humans, which some call ‘co-botting.’ In many cases, robots and humans are kept separate for safety reasons or they are slowed down to reduce the risk of injury, but through the beauty of edge orchestration made possible by spectrum-based networking, we see the acceleration of so many valuable use cases in Industry 4.0.”

Finally, private 5G can play a significant role in the creation of smart facilities, smart cities, smart farms, and more. “Private 5G networks support ubiquitous IoT devices, some of which can run sophisticated AI algorithms, which will help transform the operation of buildings, factories, and fields, as well as public spaces including transportation hubs, stadiums, campuses, and more. Where the technology really becomes interesting is in settings where neutral host models work – for example, a university can own and operate its own 5G network and sell services to local businesses, driving revenue for scholarships, capital projects, and special programs. When we implement 5G networks, we implement all varieties of them, taking advantage of an intelligent operating system and orchestration software that has AI embedded for service assurance, cyber security, and more.”

Explore the disruption and opportunity 5G is creating at 5G Expo, part of IoT Evolution Expo, taking place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, June 21-24, 2022. Discover advances in edge computing, machine learning, AI and the the role these technologies play in ushering in the new age of digital transformation. Participate in more than 100 business and technology conference sessions, workshops and keynotes, meet key suppliers in the exhibit hall, and network with prospective partners and customers during the many networking and other special events during the week. IoT Evolution Expo is part of the #TECHSUPERSHOW experience.

Edited by Erik Linask

Content Contributor

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