It’s true; your Wi-Fi network has limitations that may hamper your productivity and hurt your enterprise’s bottom line. For venues, industrial campuses, distribution centers, transportation hubs, and other large enterprises, Wi-Fi for large coverage areas can’t scale cost-effectively and has several debilitating limitations such as limited coverage, capacity, and control over the quality of service. Unreliable and underperforming networks can disrupt processes, hinder resource efficiency, threaten workforce safety, and increase security vulnerabilities.
However, there is a new alternative for enterprises looking for improved wireless networking solutions: private networks that utilize LTE and 5G technologies.
Private networks allow businesses to control their network performance, limit the risk of data breaches, and enable new wireless use cases not practical with other technologies. These benefits highlight why private networks are becoming the favorite new tool in the networking toolbox for many applications across a variety of industries.
Let’s review private networks and discuss a few promising use cases. With this knowledge, your enterprise will be better positioned to launch a scalable, next-generation connectivity solution capable of supporting organizational needs, digital transformation, and data-centric emerging technologies such as AI, industrial IoT devices, and real-time analytics.
What are Private Networks?
Private networks utilizing LTE or 5G are private cellular networks (PCNs) built specifically for an individual enterprise, venue, or geographical area. This type of network uses LTE or 5G-enabled technologies that were previously only available to wireless carriers in the U.S. These consist of a network core (evolved packet core or EPC), cellular networking base stations, small cells, and other Radio Access Network (RAN) infrastructure to create a local carrier-grade network with dedicated bandwidth and infrastructure that meets an enterprise’s connectivity needs.
Private networks operate over lightly licensed spectrum, such as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), which provides businesses the ability to utilize carrier-grade technologies without fixed usage or throttled data usage. With a private network, the enterprise has control over a carrier-grade wireless network to operate exciting new use cases either internally or with a managed service provider’s assistance.
Why Should Enterprises Use Private 5G?
Enterprises are increasingly turning to private networks to address their growing need for network security, speed, and bandwidth. Private network deployments assist enterprises with multiple locations that need wireless connectivity but are not well suited for public LTE usage or Wi-Fi. Private networks using 4G LTE and private 5G technologies are the next evolution of wireless technology, providing greater control, lower latency, higher-throughput connectivity, improved security, better coverage, and a manageable cost to the end-user.
Next-generation private networks provide businesses the valuable ability to customize and scale their network securely and on their schedule according to their locations, processes, applications, and organizational needs.
Is a Private 5G Network the Right Connectivity Solution?
Private 5G networks are suitable for enterprises that require low latency, reliability, and the need to support thousands of devices. However, it is essential to keep in mind that while private 5G offers substantial benefits and is a vast improvement on older iterations of wireless connectivity, it’s not the only solution. Depending on an enterprise's wireless network requirements, Wi-Fi and/or private LTE networks may be more than sufficient. Each connectivity solution (Wi-Fi, private LTE, and private 5G) has unique capabilities best suited to support different use cases.
Industry-leading mobile network operators predict private networks (LTE or private 5G) will continue to co-exist with Wi-Fi and other wireless networking solutions for the foreseeable future. Even though private 5G is the next evolutionary step of 4G LTE, they can work together as part of an enterprise’s private network utilizing different network slices as use cases transition from 4G to 5G.
Businesses can deploy a private network that uses both 4G LTE and 5G utilizing different frequency allocations. Therefore, businesses should think about 5G readiness when selecting their providers in order to take advantage of the breadth of 4G use cases today and ready themselves for the game-changing 5G use cases that are growing in availability.
Ideal Commercial Use Cases for Private 5G Networks
Private 5G is an ideal connectivity solution for high-density use cases requiring ultra-low latency and high-quality service. Here are a few promising commercial use cases for private 5G networks.
Manufacturing - With private 5G, manufacturing facilities can connect their Information Technology (IT) systems to their equipment wirelessly, enabling remote monitoring, access control, equipment tracking, inventory automation, vehicle automation, and other industrial IoT applications.
Mining, Oil, and Gas - For mining and energy extraction companies in isolated or rural locations, private 5G networks provide a solution for access control, security, drilling machine equipment monitoring, and safety scanning.
Multi-Campus, Stadiums, and Large Public Venues - Sport arenas, entertainment complexes, and other large public venues have demand peaks for a short period of time and require uninterrupted in-building and outdoor coverage. Private 5G networks can securely deliver the connectivity needs of employees, IoT devices, and security infrastructure while supporting business-critical applications such as ticket systems, Point-of-Sale systems, digital displays, and secure internal communications.
Private Networks: The Future of Enterprise Connectivity
Private 4G and 5G deployments are positioned to help enterprises that require improved wireless connectivity for use cases that are not well suited for Wi-Fi or commercial LTE connectivity.
Business owners and facility managers interested in deploying a private 4G or 5G network should partner with experienced and trusted mobile network managed services providers. Premier integrators will conduct comprehensive needs and network assessments and then develop a strategy for deployment and implementation, ensuring enterprises choose the connectivity solution that best fits their requirements and use cases.