By Brendan O’Reilly, Group Chief Technology Officer, BAI Communications
Private networks are changing how public and private enterprises connect, operate, and communicate.
From healthcare to hospitality and mining to manufacturing, private cellular networks are delivering the fast, secure, and efficient connectivity that large organizations need.
Putting business outcomes front and center
With all the buzz they’re now generating, you could be forgiven for thinking that private networks are a recent phenomenon. In fact, they’ve been around for several years. The difference now is that they offer a much richer experience, enabled by advances in network technology.
The adoption of 4G and the emergence of 5G has advanced the capabilities of private networks far beyond what was possible through Wi-Fi alone. This has opened a wide range of new use cases that weren’t possible or practical even two or three years ago.
As a result, it’s often business outcomes that now drive private network deployment, rather than technical limitations. Enterprises first identify the problem to be solved, then turn to the technology that enables them to resolve it.
Why private networks are a preferred choice
For any organization with large amounts of data to manage and secure, it’s easy to see the appeal of a dedicated and secure network that’s isolated from public networks. Private networks meet stringent requirements for coverage, capacity, reliability, security, low latency, or low power devices that public networks simply can’t. They’re also backed by a vast commercial ecosystem.
Organizations can also customize private networks to meet their specific requirements. Coverage, for instance, can be tailored to meet the needs of large indoor venues, such as factories, warehouses, transportation hubs, or tunnels, providing the ubiquitous coverage needed for smooth operations.
High capacity is another significant benefit of private networks, especially when it can be provided, adapted, or upgraded cost-effectively through a partnership with a shared infrastructure provider.
With benefits like these, it’s no surprise that organizations and business leaders are increasingly asking what role a private network can play in delivering their business goals. Whether that solution is Wi-Fi, 4G or 5G, the key to find a partner that ensures the private network solution deployed closely aligns with the business challenge they face.
The role of neutral host providers in private networks.
Neutral host players like Transit Wireless and BAI have a vital role to play in developing private networks because of their ability to reduce costs and generate efficiencies. Companies that have already gone through multiple network upgrades know just how expensive they can be, in terms of both financial and operational costs to the business.
By allowing businesses to share the costs of the network, neutral host players provide an attractive option for companies that want the benefits but are wary of the costs. Neutral hosts also offer greater flexibility. Small-scale and large-scale businesses have different needs and neutral private networks can be customized to meet these in specific sectors or for specific customers.
Which sectors should embrace private networks?
Any enterprise seeking to modernize services or upgrade connectivity will probably see the benefits of deploying a wireless private network.
Government and municipal authorities will see an opportunity to create the smart communities of the future by connecting a huge number of devices, users, and applications.
Transport hubs, for instance, will value the expansive indoor, outdoor, underground, and above ground coverage that lets them serve many densely packed users or connected devices.
Healthcare organizations will appreciate the reliable connection of essential medical equipment and the secure transfer of vast quantities of analytic data.
Clearly, Industry 4.0 has an almost unlimited range of applications that depend on the connectivity, reliability, and low latency that private networks can deliver.
What’s the future for private networks?
The rise of 5G is a critical differentiator for private networks. Covid-19 has already led to accelerated business digitization, with many deciding that now is the time to harness the power of 5G and speed up business or expansion plans.
Similarly, the Internet of Things has increased connected device penetration. Meaning that organizations need to consider the best way to link not just people, but also appliances, wearables, vehicles, and utilities.
As 5G technology evolves into 6G, we will see an increasingly growing number of locally operated private networks, and a remarkable range of innovative new applications. With speeds estimated to be up to 50 times faster than 5G, 6G is going to transform society in dramatic ways. Communities are going to get smarter faster, and that has the potential to deliver not only great technology outcomes – but positive societal ones too.