How Does a Private Cellular Network Work? (+Key Components)

July 19, 2023 3 minute read

How Does a Private Cellular Network Work?

In today's fast-paced digital world, seamless connectivity is crucial for businesses and organizations. Private cellular 4G and 5G networks offer a secure and reliable alternative to public wireless networks, allowing businesses to have more control over their communications infrastructure.

Let's take a deeper dive into private cellular network technology and explore how it works and its key components. 

How Does a Private Wireless Network Work?

A private cellular network (PCN) is a dedicated wireless communication system that uses 4G LTE or 5G technology to provide dedicated coverage for a specific area, organization, or use case. It utilizes a variety of technologies such as small cells, cloud-based applications, cloud or on-premise radio access network solutions, as well as edge computing to create reliable and secure communications based on the needs of the use-case the network is addressing.

Wireless networks can operate on licensed, shared, or unlicensed spectrum. Wi Fi is an example of a technology operating on unlicensed spectrum. Carrier wireless that is best associated with the 4G and 5G networks utilized by wireless carriers, as well as most wireless internet services providers operates on licensed spectrum leased from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). First commercialized in late 2019, the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band represents the first opportunity in the United States for enterprise and government customers to utilize carrier grade 4G and 5G technologies. 

Private cellular networks are managed and operated by the organization that owns them or by a managed services provider with the appropriate expertise, and are typically not shared with other companies that operate public wireless networks. This means that businesses have full control over the network and can customize it to their needs. Businesses and government entities across various industries are increasingly interested in setting up their own private cellular networks to support mission-critical applications and ensure seamless connectivity.

With the business or mission-critical nature of most use cases on these networks, uptime and quality of service are incredibly important. A comprehensive remote monitoring and maintenance program with the support of dedicated network operations center can help to avoid costly downtime and network problems, as well as provide visibility to your network performance and KPIs. These services are offered by the managed services providers designing and deploying the networks, as well as third-parties specializing in network operations and remote monitoring and maintenance. 

Key Private Network Components 

Deploying a private cellular network requires several critical components. Let's examine each one to understand how they interact.

Radio Access Network (RAN) - RAN includes a series of small cells, base stations, access points, and antennas that transmit and receive radio frequency signals to and from devices within the network.

Evolved Packet Core (EPC) - The “brains'' of the network, the EPC manages and routes data traffic between devices and external networks, such as the Internet or other private networks. It includes various components like switches, routers, and servers that ensure efficient data processing and transfer. The EPC can be located on-premise or in the cloud. 

Spectrum - Private networks today are typically operating on shared radio frequency spectrum, such as CBRS, in the United States, however there are other licensed frequency bands being offered for private cellular networks.

Spectrum Access System (SAS) - Applicable to CBRS band, the SAS facilitates and manages frequency assignments to ensure optimized and interference-free spectrum allocation across the network. 

User Equipment (UE) - Devices like smartphones, tablets, routers, ethernet bridges, and IoT sensors connect to the private network using compatible hardware and software. These devices utilize SIM based authentication for authorization to access the network, ensuring a secure connection.

Network Monitoring Platform - Organizations can monitor their private cellular network through cloud-based network management systems. These systems help in troubleshooting, configuring network components, and optimizing performance. Add-on services like 24/7 Network Operations Center, preventative maintenance, network management, and break-fix services are also offered.

Unlock Seamless Connectivity with a Purpose-Built Private 4G or 5G Network 

Private cellular networks are transforming the way businesses communicate and connect. From factories to offices, campuses to military bases, these networks provide secure, reliable, and cost-effective connectivity. With the right partners, private networks can be deployed quickly and seamlessly managed in any environment. 

Businesses interested in deploying a private LTE/5G network should partner with experienced wireless network managed services providers. These premier system integrators will conduct use case analysis and comprehensive network assessments to develop a strategy for deployment, integration, and network operation, ensuring organizations choose the connectivity solution that best fits their operational and budgetary requirements. 

Ready to Harness the Power of Private Networks? Get in Touch.