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Everything you need to know about Private Networks

A private network is a dedicated network for an enterprise designed exclusively to meet its specific business needs. The enterprise has full control of the dedicated network. It enables them to restrict network access to authorized people and devices as well as process the enterprise data locally via the edge cloud, ensuring enterprise security and data privacy.

As enterprises initiate their digital transformation journey, they need to connect many devices and applications and process the data generated by them in real-time or near real-time. Sample devices and applications that enterprises need to connect on their private network include automated guided vehicles, sensors, drones, augmented reality/virtual reality devices, or wearables, in addition to the traditional devices such as smartphones and desktops. These connected devices and applications on the private enterprise network demand guaranteed quality of service, i.e., reliable connectivity, low latency, high mobility, high-density support, data privacy, and security.

The traditional connectivity options such as wired ethernet and WiFi have limitations in meeting the enterprise connectivity requirements. Ethernet connectivity though cheap has mobility constraints and requires enterprises to invest in factory remodeling. WiFi limits the number of connections on the access point, in addition to interference and unpredictable latency. Hence, the need for wireless technology such as LTE/4G or 5G for enterprise private network connectivity.

Private 5G network is a dedicated private network that uses 5G technology across the enterprise site for communication.

The 5G wireless technology provides enterprises with ultra-high reliability (99.999%), low latency (less than ten milliseconds), ability to connect more than one million devices per square kilometer, full mobility, security with 5G SIM and support service-specific SLAs with network slicing. Compared to 5G, 4G/LTE technology has limitations as it supports only one gigabyte per second, hundred-thousand connections per square kilometer, and lacks ultra-high reliability. Hence, depending on the enterprise use case need, either 5G or 4G/LTE technology may be the right private network option.

The top 7 benefits of a private 5G network for enterprises include:

  • Better network coverage & capacity
  • Deterministic performance
  • Security & data privacy
  • Low latency with edge computing
  • High density & scalability
  • Flexibility
  • Full Control

For additional details, please read the 5G Magazine – Private Networks, May 2021 Edition.

We analyzed seventy-five in-deployment | in-trial private 5G global enterprise use cases and enterprises (non-telco) that won spectrum across countries where 5G is live. Based on our analysis, Manufacturing, Transportation, Energy, and Utilities are the top private 5G industry verticals. Below are insights from the related research and analysis.

For additional details, please read the 5G Magazine – Private Networks, May 2021 Edition.

Private Network Strategies of Network Equipment Vendors

  • Sell network equipment and solutions directly to enterprises. e.g., Nokia positions its Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) & Modular Private Wireless (MPW) directly with enterprises such as Lufthansa.
  • Sell network equipment packaged with own and partners solutions via mobile network operators, e.g., Ericsson’s industry connect program for private networks and partnerships with mobile network operators such as AT&T.
  • Sell network solutions via partnerships with cloud & edge vendors, e.g., Athonet partnership with Amazon for BubbleCloud, 5G-Ready LTE networks.
  • Sell network solutions via partnerships with system integrators,e.g., Mavenir partnership with Mugler, a system integrator to provide turn-key private network solutions to enterprises in Germany.
  • Address network coverage issues in urban and remote areas via creating a private network coverage bubble,e.g., parallel wireless, bring your coverage solution to provide reliable coverage for emergency safety services.

Read 5G Magazine, Private Networks – May 2021 edition to get details on Private network strategies of:

  • Mobile network operators
  • Cloud and Edge Vendors
  • Large Enterprises
  • CBRS Operators

With enterprises evolving their network needs and re-evaluating their connectivity requirements, private LTE/5G networks have emerged as the preferred option for supporting a wide range of use cases more effectively, while ensuring lower latency, greater security, and higher reliability. 

The prospects for organizations looking to deploy private wireless networks more easily and cost-effectively have improved significantly due to the convergence of several factors. These include shared spectrum via CBRS in the US (with active progress elsewhere in the world to adopt similar models), the improvement in 5G standards and technology, and an expanded open ecosystem for RAN and core network components (e.g. TIP/OpenRAN, O-RAN, Open Source Core). At the same time, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven enterprises and institutions to develop innovative solutions using private networks to either drive efficiency or provide an alternative means for a connected user experience. While the challenges and complexities of deploying and operating a private wireless network can become overwhelming, an evolving ecosystem of equipment suppliers, software providers, and systems integrators makes the task entirely feasible.

But it is the role of the systems integrator (SI) specifically that ties it all together, helping enterprises across all stages of the lifecycle of deploying and operating private wireless networks. The process starts with working with the enterprise to fully analyze planned use-cases, specify network requirements and shortlist which technologies and solution characteristics are needed to meet the requirements. The SI also helps identify the right radio access and core equipment/software providers (including network cloud options), and in many cases, also sources/procure them as part of the overall engagement by leveraging existing reseller agreements with technology providers.

While on the surface, such tasks may seem simple, the devil is in the details. A myriad of choices and decisions must be made to best match the requirements to the eventual network design. This includes the type of end-user device or customer premise equipment (CPE), indoor vs outdoor coverage, type of backhaul, and whether the core network functions need to be on-premises or centralized (and possibly on the cloud). Additionally, beyond just supporting data, the SI determines whether other communications applications such as push to talk (PTT) or VoLTE need to be supported and if critical SLAs exist that need to be monitored and actively assured. And finally, the SI answers questions of how the new network will integrate, interoperate and connect with legacy IT systems, or how WAN/ Wi-Fi will complement the new private network.

Get in-depth view on the above in the 5G Magazine, Private Networks – May edition.

From requirements and planning to design and installation strategies — below are the necessary steps for deploying an OnGo-enabled private LTE network in the CBRS band.

Step 1: Gathering Requirements

The first step in any successful deployment requires a detailed understanding of the organization’s needs as well as the problems and challenges that it wishes to solve with an OnGo private LTE network. Organizations should begin by identifying the most critical use cases. For instance, a smart building might flag internal communication among staff members or “dead zones” in elevators and hallways. Next, a designated networking team — or an OnGo service provider — can design a system to meet its specific needs. For example, in commercial buildings, facilities might require several smart devices to monitor the building, specifically various support systems within the building that control its features (e.g. security, HVAC, and lighting).

Step 2: Survey & Planning

An organization should then estimate traffic needs within its network and determine the level of bandwidth required to support operations. OnGo is ideally suited for when organizations either have: a lot of devices to control, operations that demand consistent performance, mission-critical reliance on mobility, multiple access points that are difficult to place, or a complex radio environment.For smart buildings, staff members require access to data while working throughout the building. Which devices is the customer looking to support? What are their bandwidth requirements? Do they need to be mobile within the venue or static? How many devices are expected? Will coverage be needed outside the venue, e.g., in the parking lot?

Get details on steps 3, 4, and 5 in the 5G Magazine, Private Networks – May 2021 edition.

There are several use cases. Here is our vision of the major ones:

Monitoring & Control: Connectivity of machines, people, and systems allow manufacturers to have better visibility and control over the status of their production systems, enabling managers to make better-informed decisions and reduce lead times and resource allocation.

Tracking and control: Connecting all sites to evaluate the relative performance of similar processes, implementing a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to have full traceability and visibility on the status of each production batch to anticipate problems and update schedule, connecting different parts of the supply chain to evaluate global performance and anticipate bottlenecks, providing location-based services to track products and assets, etc.

Predictive Performance & Condition Based Maintenance: Digital simulations of production processes, labs, factories, or entire networks allow companies to steer processes proactively.

To get a complete list of the use cases, please check out 5G Magazines, Private Networks – May 2021 Edition.

5G networks are facing major challenges. 5G industry standards for ultra-low latency are both complex and delayed. 3GPP is expected to address this in Release 17 which is due out in the second half of 2021.

There are some concerns around delays in low-cost devices with 5G native connectivity. Bulk deployment of 5G devices can be an expensive affair due to the limited availability of such devices or because of cost implications. For instance, smart glasses or smart sensors on AGVs or 5G CPE devices and industrial devices may not be readily available in the market with volumes that drive device cost points down. Thus, devices may turn out to be expensive for mass deployment. As the cost of these features can be high thereby Industrial networks may not migrate from deployed based on Industrial Ethernet and OPC UA etc. for time-sensitive network (TSN) Use Cases of Connectivity.

There are two concerns: 5G-based TSN has only been tested in trials and not in a large-scale factory. The second concern is about the upgrade of the existing infrastructure in case it doesn’t comply with the requirements of a private 5G network. This could require an investment in new infrastructure and/or replacement of existing infrastructure. In some parts of the world, there are concerns around 5G Radio-related health and power usage i.e. perceived as not being green. However, 5G has the advanced capabilities of automated network resource management to deliver energy savings to both operators and the enterprise.

Licensed spectrum-based Private Networks are services that are launched by MVNOs/MNOs, and the government procedure for having access to unlicensed spectrum for geo-specific radio frequencies is being simplified and is relatively affordable. In the US, the band access to radio frequencies which are designed to be free was also auctioned off, giving priority access (PAL) to CBRS. Several enterprises and telcos have applied for this PAL for CBRS. Thanks to this, private networks in the US could proliferate.

With the arrival of 5G, regulators in many countries and territories are considering or are already allocating more spectrum to enable private network deployment, with the aim of enabling and encouraging digital industry development. Shared spectrum solutions enable the use of the same spectrum range in a single geographic area by more than one organization.

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Feature your content

In planned editions of 5G Magazines

July 2022
Aug 2022
Sep 2022

Open RAN

5G Orchestration and Assurance

5G for Smart Healthcare & Public Safety

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