The demand for network connectivity has been growing, predominantly in supporting mission-critical business applications. Every line of business has undergone rapid digital and automation transformation, says Yogesh Desale, market research analyst at MarketsandMarkets. In the digital transformation era, businesses are embracing best-of-breed technologies for improving operational efficiency and streamlining business operations.
In the race for digitalisation, organisations are capitalising on developing their private mobile networks for accelerating innovation in businesses. Technology advances and a strong partner ecosystem have paved the way for enterprises to design their mobile networks. Over the last few years, the private LTE market (long-term evolution to 4th Generation communications) has been dominating wireless networks and offering higher network coverage and capacity with greater security, scalability, and flexibility for supporting businesses’ mission-critical applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, remote asset monitoring, public safety, smart cities, robotics, and business intelligence. Private wireless networks support traditional industries as well as emerging use cases, and improve workforce productivity. These private wireless networks have dominated industrial sectors and entered in consumer-centric businesses, such as healthcare, education, and retail.
International appeal of private LTE
The availability of unlicensed and shared spectrum bands in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan has changed the equations of the private LTE market. Government regulators are releasing several local and shared spectrum bands for private wireless networks to increase digitalisation in mining, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and government.
Private networks offer dedicated and secure connectivity to enterprises. Strong collaborations between ecosystem vendors benefit businesses to deploy and manage mobile networks in a limited time with a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) business model is driving private LTE network implementation across a series of businesses. User Equipment (UE) and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) vendors are contributing actively to the devices segment by supporting frequency bands in the private LTE market. Businesses have shown the wide-scale implementation of private LTE networks in mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, and government industries.
Reduced dependence on telcos
Private LTE networks have reduced businesses’ dependency on telecom operators and service providers for network connectivity. In some cases, private networks are complementing existing enterprises’ wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi in dense and populated areas.
The market has been witnessing several developments in private 5G networks from network enablers, semiconductor companies, and government organisations. Industrial sectors in the UK, Germany, and Japan are excited about their private 5G networks for factory automation, connected vehicles, and ultra-low latency business applications. It is a great time for enterprises to invest in the right technology for private mobile networks as per business requirements. The private LTE and 5G networks are distinct in terms of architecture, benefits, and cost of network deployment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for self-governing network infrastructure that can be managed remotely, without the intervention of telecom operators and service providers. With the increasing demand for private networks in industrial and government sectors, businesses are keen to develop their wireless networks to complement traditional and emerging business applications and network technologies.
In the digital transformation era, businesses are aiming at creating a resilient infrastructure that will sustain them during the pandemic and deliver business objectives with improved operational efficiency. Industrial sectors utilise intelligence on IoT and edge devices to unleash data monetisation opportunities from business applications. In the 4th industrial revolution, private LTE and 5G technologies are set to transform digital revolution across mining, energy and utilities, healthcare, manufacturing, and government sectors. COVID-19 will change the business landscape with new use cases that are expected to emerge in the future. The mission-critical business applications will require ultra-low latency connectivity, which will be supported by private LTE and 5G networks. Private mobile networks would transform industrial sectors through the creation of new jobs.
Upgradable to 5G networks
Private LTE networks, which can be upgradable to 5G networks, will improve workforce productivity, streamline business processes, and increase agility in network operations across industrial sectors. These networks support connectivity among employees, devices, and business applications in local, remote, and dense sites. As per industry experts, businesses are yet to benefit from artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, and automation technologies. Private wireless networks will have the power to truly unleash hidden opportunities from digital transformation across businesses.
Private 5G networks are expected to gain momentum from 2021 to 2022. Enterprises have shown a significant interest in the development of their 5G networks. These technology vendors have been developing radio and core networks for the private 5G networks. Also, regulatory firms are releasing spectrums for private 5G networks. Network infrastructure vendors are equipped with solutions and services necessary for the deployment of private 5G networks. In terms of end users, businesses from Europe are excited to develop and own their 5G networks for mission-critical applications, such as connected factories, connected healthcare, and autonomous vehicles.
As per Nokia, the UK, Germany, and Japan are expected to be favourable markets for the deployment of private 5G networks due to the availability of 5G spectrum bands. Nokia has announced the deployment of the private 5G networks with Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa Technik, and Toyota Production Engineering. Moreover, the company will provide its 5G SA private wireless network to Sandvik Mining and Rockwell Technology. Use cases/application areas, cost of deployment, the availability of frequency bands, achievement of short- or long-term goals, and partner ecosystem are key factors that would drive enterprises to adopt either private LTE or private 5G networks.
The author is Yogesh Desale, market research analyst at MarketsandMarkets.