The adoption of private 5G networks is gaining traction around the world as regulators allocate more spectrum to enterprises so they can build and maintain their own private 5G networks. Over the past few years, there has been a lot of hype around 5G and its ability to deliver lightning-fast connectivity to consumers. The global rollouts of public 5G are still in emerging stages and years away from mainstream adoption. On the other hand, private licensed 5G networks are here today, and they're helping small and midsize businesses (SMB) realize the vision of the future.
Private versus public 5G
Private 5G networks are networks that use licensed, shared, or unlicensed wireless spectrum and LTE or 5G cellular networking base stations, small cells, and other Radio Access Network (RAN) infrastructure to transmit voice and data to edge devices, including smart phones, embedded modules, routers, and gateways.
Challenges with private 5G
Private 5G networks promise to offer low latency, high reliability, and support for massive numbers of connected devices, but enterprise deployment has been slower than expected, experts say, due to the pandemic and a slow-to-evolve device ecosystem.
First, the devices must be operational on the wireless spectrum used by the private network.
Second, deep integration of the 5G equipment, devices and its applications is needed. This will emphasize the role of partners and systems integrators. Enterprises should look for those that have rich experience in 5G networks and technologies to make it easier to build a dedicated private 5G network, but they should be wary of vendor lock-in. There are also regulatory requirements and spectrum availability issues that must be addressed.
Price is also an issue. Since the hardware is new, the economies of scale haven't kicked in yet. And if a 5G project uses licensed spectrum, then there are the connectivity costs.
Finally, 5G skill sets aren't there yet, either, and the talent that exists is mostly tied up working directly for the telcos.
Building a private 5G network
Even with these challenges, a private 5G network is the clear choice for SMBs that require ultra-low latency, reliability and the need to support thousands of devices. 5G is capable of transmitting speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G LTE. Organizations that are deploying or are considering deploying private LTE or 5G networks are generally organizations that need to provide connectivity to a large number of users and devices, or need to cover a large geographic area for IoT applications.
To build a private 5G network, enterprises need:
Wireless spectrum purchased from the government, or provided to them by an MNO or third party spectrum provider. They can also use unlicensed spectrum or spectrum that is “shared,” like CBRS spectrum in the U.S.
LTE or 5G infrastructure — base stations, mini-towers, small cells, and other equipment — purchased from network infrastructure equipment providers.
Smartphones, embedded modules, routers, gateways, and other edge devices with SIM cards and modems to connect to their private LTE or 5G network.
As more spectrum becomes available, more devices are connected, and the 5G ecosystem matures, deployment costs will drop and more advanced technologies will emerge. 5G networks will become an increasingly desirable choice for businesses of all sizes. Enterprises with their eyes on what's happening now will be better equipped to harness these advanced enabling technologies to build the enterprise of the future. We can help you use private LTE and 5G networks to create value in today’s connected economy. Schedule your consultation today.