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Private 5G: A new paradigm for network operators and enterprises

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Written by: Aniruddho Basu, Executive Vice President, Emerging Business, Mavenir

From factories to farms to hospitals to hotels, enterprises across industries are running the numbers on private 5G. Private networks rely on technology from public carrier networks as well as enterprise IT, bringing together two disciplines that have until now developed along very different trajectories. Digital transformation of industry, the convergence of telco and IT, migration of cloud applications to the edge, and the increasing availability of spectrum are all conspiring to set the stage for explosive demand for private 5G. A private 5G network is an enterprise-dedicated network that provides communication connections to people or things belonging to a specific enterprise and provides specific services necessary for the business of the enterprise.

Private 5G networks have specific advantages over LTE, Wi-Fi and Ethernet. These include Ultra-Reliable, Low-Latency Communications (URLLC); support for strict security, privacy and data isolation requirements; the ability to tailor 5G uplink and downlink bandwidth ratios to use cases; and the ability to implement network slicing, which can be applied within a private 5G network to create SLAs for specific devices and/or applications. As network operators, vendors and enterprises work together, private 5G networks will add value to many processes, and may even be transformational for some companies

The market for private cellular network infrastructure will be worth $5.7 billion by 2024, according to the analyst team at IDC, which sees the commercialisation of 5G as a major driver of investment in private networks. Many Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and enterprises will see private 5G become foundational to their businesses in the coming years.

Mobile network operators will participate in private 5G in many ways. Private networks will allow MNOs to evolve from being commodity connectivity providers to being value-added partners for their enterprise customers. MNOs need to reinvent themselves a little bit. They will probably need to pivot towards being managed services and system integration and deployment partners. Private networks create a way for operators to earn revenue beyond the boundaries of their spectrum licences. Most private 5G networks will also need to interoperate with public networks, and this creates another opportunity for MNOs.

Private networks are already helping enterprises in a variety of industries to cut costs, reduce energy use and analyse business-critical data in real-time. Enterprise cost savings delivered by private 5G fall into two broad categories: savings generated by faster access to better data, and savings generated by operational flexibility. When private 5G is combined with edge compute resources, real-time data analytics can produce actionable intelligence for the enterprise. However, more enterprise use cases for private 5G will develop as the IoT device ecosystem matures.

With 5G private networks to enable secure connectivity while collecting and managing massive amounts of business-critical data, enterprises and industries can accelerate their digital journeys. Private 5G is not only a new paradigm for network operators, it is also an exciting opportunity for public and private enterprises to unlock efficiencies, leverage data in real-time, and generate new revenue.

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