A mobile private network is a network authorised by the enterprise to run devices on the enterprise network. Generally deployed in one or more enterprise locations, the main aim of deploying such a network is to deliver targeted coverage, enhanced capacity and other capabilities required for the organisation.
But how it can give an opportunity to telecom operators? Are mobile network operators getting significant revenue streams from mobile private networks? Though operators may get surpassed by systems integrators, vendors, and enterprises themselves, the opportunity lies in the fact that they add value and deploy these networks by creating new offerings with new service models and different approaches to help customers build their own private networks.
Increase in competition in the mobile private network market
Now, as CBRS band has been introduced in the United States on the frequency band of 3.5 GHz. CBRS band 48 is being used for 4G LTE networks or fixed/mobile NR networks, giving an array of new entrants in the market to develop private networks using commercially available shared spectrum and satisfy their enterprise customers’ need.
Regulators in various countries are permitting organizations to get their own spectrum and use it for private networks. As a result, potential opportunities for the operators are reducing. For instance, BNetzA, the German regulator shared 3700 – 3800 MHz band and awarded 74 licenses to several companies including Audi, Lufthansa and Bosch to deploy 5G networks.
Building private networks to meet high-end networking demands
Private LTE and 5G networks have gained the spotlight as enterprises are turning on this one-kind-of-a-network to meet their networking requirements across different locations. Mobile private networks are being deployed focusing on high speed, capacity and security capabilities to enhance operational efficiencies of enterprise customers.
Businesses are utilising private 5G network/private LTE network as a replacement to their legacy radio technologies like PMR, VHF/UHF or as an add-on to their previously used network components and technologies. Most of the private networks are still using LTE though they are ready to be transformed into 5G private networks. The shift can give various new opportunities for operators as they can quickly take advantage from it. Operators need to undergo different tests with 5G network testing equipment & tools to assess key KPIs and make amendments immediately to deliver better results.
According to a research, only 29 out of 101 private networks deployed have operator involvement as most of the deployments are currently vendor-driven and many operators have still not entered this space. Traditional wireline technologies like Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Ethernet are being substituted with private LTE to serve connectivity in remote areas. With mobile private LTE networks, M2M/IoT communications are growing rapidly unlike traditional private radio networks.
Benefits of mobile private network:
- Better indoor and outdoor coverage; outdoor coverage can be assessed using RF drive test tools and generate reports to analyse network measurements while indoor coverage can measured by performing walk tests on the targeted location.
- High level of control over deployment, equipment, security and choices of device.
- Standalone network without reliance of public network.
- Improved and reserved capacity.
CSPs’ progress in mobile private networks down the lane
- Ford and Vodafone Business have partnered to install a 5G private mobile network at the automaker’s new location for production in the UK’s Essex, a county in Southeast England. The project will focus on accelerating the manufacturing of electric batteries.
- In November 2020, A1 Telekom Austria Group, digital services and communications technology provider in Eastern and Central Europe announced partnership with Nokia. Nokia will deploy industrial-grade private wireless network and services for current and newly developed A1 Austria’s LTE and 5G enterprise campus. The collaboration has already resulted in numerous successful deployments of private wireless campus networks in the country including deployment at Magna Steyr, 5G Playground Carinthia and Vienna Airport.
- e.GO, a German electric vehicle manufacturer, Ericsson and Vodafone teamed up to develop a car manufacturing plant enabled by 5G connectivity. Using Ericsson’s Private Networks solution constituting 5G Core and 5G New Radio solutions, e.GO will have a secured and real-time data networking across the entire production chain ranging from digital material management to control autonomous vehicles.
With a limited role to play in the private network domain, operators are missing out new revenue growth opportunities. However, with the rising demands for private networks across industries such as mining, manufacturing, education and many more, operators are trying to strategise their network offerings by reselling complete package solutions from vendors.
They are also creating unique sales engagement propositions adding new components on top of vendors’ offerings and engage to successfully convert leads into customers. It is high time for operators to scale by embracing new working models and become a part of the dynamic ecosystem. Operators, network vendors and system integrators are collaborating to drive modern reliable, ultra-speed, top-notch performing wireless solutions needed to build new use cases targeted for specific industries.