What do private 5G networks promise for organizations?
6/27/2022
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What do private 5G networks promise for organizations?

It is frequently claimed that public 5G networks provide the ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLCC) required for various applications, including industrial control, driverless cars, and virtual reality. However, not all public 5G networks are made equal. It might be essential in some circumstances to establish your own private 5G network to receive the anticipated benefits or to contact one of the increasing numbers of systems integrators willing to develop and operate it on your behalf.

Low latency is necessary for connected production systems, or "Industry 4.0," to synchronize equipment and enable them to react to their surroundings. Damage to the facility or product may result from delays. For virtual reality apps to function properly, servers must respond quickly enough to prevent a dizzying lag between user movements and what they perceive. Information distribution delays may have effects worse than illness for the passengers of an autonomous automobile.

To send control signals over the somewhat older 4G network core while data travels over the more modern 5G network, the majority of network operators currently providing 5G service do so by combining the 5G NR (New Radio) interface with that network. This combination is known as "5G NSA" (non-standalone). Only 5G SA (standalone) networks can offer features like sub-10ms latency and the "slicing" of networks to logically separate services. In contrast, the Enhanced Packet Core (EPC) of many 4G LTE networks is fairly quick. However, the new 5G Packet Core was designed specifically for 5G SA (standalone) networks and is faster than both.

While 67 operators invested in 5G SA in 2021, only a handful offered commercial 5G SA service. Network operators like to fudge the differences, so it may not be clear which flavor of 5G your local operator offers. A few others had claimed launches that the GSA could not verify or utilize for fixed wireless connectivity.

Private networks

Private 5G can be a compelling option for businesses wishing to build out 5G coverage on a sizable campus or an installation like a port, refinery, or manufacturing facility.

The ability to create a private 5G network frees CIOs from having to wait for their national network operators to implement 5G SA in their region because 5G, unlike WiFi, has the range to cover a vast site from a few places.

Like WiFi, private 5G networks can run on an unlicensed or even licensed spectrum if regulatory authorities deem them to be in the national interest. Ports, for instance, might be an example of this.

The drawback is that most businesses won't be ready to handle planning tower placements, installation, continuous management, and equipment maintenance without a network operator overseeing everything. Fortunately, more systems integrators are willing to take on the task. The time has come when you can get a 5G network from Amazon, complete with installation and maintenance.

To develop and manage private wireless networks, network equipment maker Nokia has long-standing partnerships with Accenture, Atos, DXC Technology, EY, and Infosys. IBM spin-off Kyndryl was added to this list in February 2022. It depends on them to offer first- and second-level help to businesses, but they can step in and provide third-level support independently. Ericsson collaborates with DXC with Capgemini, Fujitsu, KPMG, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and several other companies.

CIOs can also look to companies like NTT, which recently teamed up with ServiceNow to automate some portions of private network implementation, or Cisco Systems, which has joined with 5G operator Dish Network to deliver enterprise 5G.

CIOs should choose their partners wisely. The most prosperous private wireless providers are working to provide some managed network services capacity in addition to integration competence.

Cloud-powered

Due to their design, freestanding 5G networks will be able to supply computational capabilities close to the connected devices, which is one of their most significant advantages. That's because, in contrast to 3G and 4G wireless networks, data traffic can be re-dispatched without traveling back to the network's core. It becomes possible to process internet of things data close to where it was created, significantly reducing latency in industrial control applications.

Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud provides these capabilities as a service. Amazon Web Services provides a way to divide applications between back-end services running in its core cloud computing regions and delay-sensitive functions running in what it calls Wavelength Zones, edge computing devices installed in 5G networks. In comparison, Microsoft offers many Azure features tied to the delivery of edge computing for 5G networks, including Azure Private Multi-Access Edge Compute.