The Future of Enterprises with Private 5G Networks

By Abhishek Ashtekar

Principal Engineer

VOLANSYS Technologies

June 23, 2022

Blog

The Future of Enterprises with Private 5G Networks

A private 5G network is a network that carries all the key capabilities of 5G but is isolated from the public 5G network provided by any Mobile Network Operator (MNO) or connected in a restricted manner. A private 5G network is customized in such a manner that the network infrastructure can be used only by authorized devices, providing security, privacy, and data isolation.

A private network has a dedicated spectrum (licensed/unlicensed) that provides priority access to a specific set of devices to ensure the lowest latency (5msec), necessary bandwidth, and assured availability.

Importance of Private 5G Networks

The demand for 5G is burgeoning as Wi-Fi networks are gradually suffering from coverage, capacity, reliability, and timing issues. As Wi-Fi networks use an unlicensed spectrum, users are left vulnerable in the public domain. Private 5G networks use a dedicated spectrum and the technology offering eMBB, mMTC and URLLC features bridges the above gaps.

The latest Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E provide major improvements over their predecessors such as enhanced bandwidth, lower latency, higher speeds, and security, but 5G technology is unbeatable in terms of ultra-low latency, precise addressability to large numbers of devices, privacy, and outdoor performance. The momentum from aggressive investments from Telecoms, OEMs, and Semicon has led to rapid developments in private 5G networks, eventually simplifying deployment and reducing the cost.

Types of Private 5G Networks

  • Integrated 5G Private Network: An integrated or a hybrid private 5G network operates using infrastructure (RAN/Core), spectrum, or services from a public 5G network on a sharing basis, maintaining the isolation of its private devices.

Small Enterprises

Small to Medium-sized Enterprises

Larger Enterprises

A private 5G line from an MNO with all its services is leased out

A virtual private network is another type of integrated private network where a public 5G network is completely shared using end-to-end slicing

A 5G network where the MEC and UPF of a public 5G network are separately deployed for private usage where private data is handled by the local network

Oil and gas industries, campus networks, airports, and stadiums are some typical use cases of integrated/hybrid networks.

 

Fig 1: Integrated Private Network

  • Independent 5G Private Network: An independent 5G private network is built for a single enterprise that owns the infrastructure (RAN, Core, Edge Computing Nodes) and the wireless spectrum reserved for its use. It manages and controls the entire network and the devices that it connects are completely isolated from public MNO networks.

Healthcare, manufacturing (IIoT/TSN), and mining are some of the typical use cases of independent 5G private networks.

 

Fig 2: Independent Private Network

Spectrum for Private 5G Networks

The 5G spectrum has an allocation in three principal ranges:

  • Low band range comes under 1GHz
  • Mid band ranges between 3.3 GHz to 3.8 GHz, 6GHz, and CBRS
  • High band (mmWave) ranges from 26 GHz, 28 GHz, and 40 GHz range

There are three types of spectrums and the allocation of each spectrum may vary with region.

  • Licensed Spectrum: For the private 5G network, an enterprise can purchase/lease a spectrum from the government authority or from MNOs. For critical communication requirements, a dedicated licensed spectrum can ensure the needed QoS by configuring bandwidth, speed, power, etc.
  • Unlicensed Spectrum: The unlicensed spectrum is free to use by anyone however it cannot promise quality service as it can be completely congested or not in use
  • Shared Spectrum: The shared spectrum such as the authorized access (GAA) tier of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS US) band can also be used for private 5G networks. However, shared licensed bands require a management system to avoid interference 

#

Country

Licensed Spectrum

Unlicensed Spectrum

Shared Spectrum

1

Finland

3.4 - 3.8 GHz

 

 

2

Denmark

3.74 – 3. 8 GHz

 

 

3

USA

 

n96 (5925 MHz – 7125 MHz)

n48 (3550 MHz – 3700 MHz) – CBRS

4

Germany

n77/n78

(3700 MHz – 3800 MHz)

and

24.25 - 27.5 GHz

-

-

5

France

n38 (2570 MHz – 2620 MHz)

 

 

6

Netherlands

 

 

2.3 - 2.4 GHz

7

Japan

China

n79 (4400 MHz – 5000 MHz)

 

 

8

South

Korea

 

n96 (5925 MHz – 7125 MHz)

 

9

UK

n77 (3800 MHz – 4200 MHz)

 

 

10

EU

 

n96 (5900 MHz – 6400 MHz)

 

Source: Qualcomm, 5G Technology World

Use Cases of Private 5G Networks

Private 5G networks are getting deployed actively in multiple industries and domains to enable new features and enhance the existing services., opening up new business avenues for mobile network operators.

Automotive Manufacturing

The automotive manufacturing industry is one of the early adopters of the private 5G network. Combining a private 5G network with the latest Industrial IoT (IIoT) standards enables industrial-grade edge-to-cloud deployable solutions for the automotive industry. 5G networks offering high bandwidth, low latency, and high-reliability help in connecting wireless IoT nodes and robots in a collaborative manner, enabling real-time data processing and time-critical operations. The massive amounts of data collected using a 5G network are used to drive machine learning (ML) platforms that continuously optimize production and improve quality by implementing artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

Real-time Medical Imaging

Dedicated spectrum, high capacity, and ultra-low latency are the key factors driving the use cases of private 5G networks in the healthcare domain. Streaming of medical imaging data with added AR/VR demands high-capacity data transmission without any lag. Private 5G provides a reliable communication link to allow real-time diagnosis and help medical practitioners make time-critical surgical decisions.

Warehouse Logistics

Due to the rapid expansion of e-commerce in recent times, warehousing and related supply chain management have gained major significance. Private 5G networks offering mMTC and URLLC can help overall efficiency by bringing significant improvements in inventory management, goods transportation, and security. Goods can be tracked from the manufacturing unit to the end consumer. The mMTC feature of 5G enables addressing to millions of closely-spaced devices providing real-time data such as location, unit count, packaging data, etc., while the URLLC feature allows tracking of rapidly moving targets. Private 5G inherently provides enhanced security and better availability leading to increased productivity.

Challenges Faced During 5G Private Network Deployment

  • Regulatory: 5G spectrum allocation and licensing are still not complete in many countries, hampering the final design and deployment of several solutions ready for market. Also, there is a significant price for the usage of a dedicated spectrum.
  • Cost and ROI: As mentioned above, spectrum licensing is one of the major cost factors affecting the 5G private networks. The organizations willing to deploy 5G private networks need to invest heavily in new infrastructure and make their existing devices 5G-ready. The companies, therefore, critically evaluate their need and consider the return on investment before making the decision to deploy a private 5G network. Last but not least, the incumbent staff needs to be technically trained to manage and operate the network.

Abhishek is working with VOLANSYS as Principal Engineer. He has 12+ years of experience working with semiconductor and embedded product companies and has expertise in architecting, designing, and developing solutions focused on the area of connectivity.

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