The large-scale support of 5G networks for IoT applications has not yet arrived. Which applications are more suitable for 5G networks in the future, perhaps the private LTE network can give a preliminary answer.
Last month, South Korea and the United States competed for the "world's first" for 5G network business services, and suddenly announced the scheduled release time. South Korea even officially released the 5G commercial network late at night on April 3, just to advance the US two hours. It's not easy to fight for the "first in the world," but it's not easy to really bring a revolutionary experience to the industry with 5G. At present, the industry has explored a large number of demonstrations of 5G networks, but the reality that these demonstrations can become commercial is not just a footstep, because business models, technology maturity and regulatory barriers may take several years. The deployment of some commercially available technologies can be used as a means of verification for 5G networks. Among them, the private LTE network may play a “front-end” for 5G, verifying that many seemingly demanding 5G applications are really demanding and whether there is a suitable business model.
Widely used private network
A private LTE network is an LTE network built for a specific use case; a local network that uses a dedicated radio to serve a limited area. Private networks have a longer history than public networks and are now widely used in a number of key industries. There are many industries with special communication network requirements, such as highly real-time monitoring, visual operation, high security authentication control, safety production monitoring, remote diagnosis, asset management, etc. Some special requirements are not met by public networks. of. Including resource-based industries, power production transmission, civil aviation, railways, and some manufacturing industries.
The private network market for key communications industries is also relatively large. According to market research firm Harbor Research, there are 750 million IoT devices connected to private networks by 2023, compared with 170 million in 2017, a compound annual growth rate. Nearly 30%. The GSMA predicts that the number of IoT connections based on Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and enhanced Machine Type Communication (eMTC) will reach 1.8 billion by 2015. Although the number of private network IoT connections is less than half compared with NB-IoT/eMTC, it serves services with more critical communications, and the value obtained behind it may be much higher than that of NB-IoT/eMTC connections.
The US Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and the MulteFire Alliance will play a role in this regard. For example, the MulteFire Alliance is committed to promoting global network standards, allowing developers and users to use the LTE standard under an architecture that uses unlicensed or shared spectrum. Under the promotion of this standardization organization, the Internet of Things based on private networks The number of connections has also grown rapidly.
Private LTE networks bring no low income, according to ABI Research, by 2025 those sectors using private LTE will create a market worth $16.3 billion – a CAGR of 45 per cent since 2018.
Many markets can benefit from private LTE networks: healthcare, extraction (oil and gas, mining), cities and cities that aim to achieve "smart" status, public safety and transportation - such as railroads - to name a few. The private network is scalable and can be as small as a cell site or as needed.
Since LTE is the primary technology for commercial mobile services, private LTE deployments will benefit from all the investments, innovation and cost efficiency of economies of scale. The open 3GPP LTE standard means that infrastructure and equipment can come from many vendors, so the budget can be controlled without the need for expensive proprietary device locks. A future-oriented private LTE network can be the basis for how each organization can get the most out of the emerging 5G network, because users can identify and integrate each relevant development.
A private LTE network can be seen as an important pioneer in 5G networks in specific industries.
Telecom operators are providers of public network services, and private networks seem to be more available from other types of vendors. However, more and more operators are now considering providing LTE private network services. The LTE private network provides operators with better opportunities to cut into the IoT business, not just selling IoT SIM cards.
In fact, in a private LTE network, network solution vendors can implement scenarios similar to 5G network requirements through specialized technical enhancements. For example, for scenarios that require high reliability, the network reliability capability is specifically enhanced in related indicators; for example, some private networks are optimized for delay. Although it is not necessarily a standardized network deployment solution, if it is specifically optimized for the 5G network application scenario, the potential user requirements of the 5G network are verified to a large extent, and some scenarios similar to the 5G network can be obtained. Whether there is a conclusion of real needs.
Private network challenges
(1) Competition with suppliers. Communication equipment vendors are already providing enterprises with direct LTE-based private network solutions. In addition to Ericsson, Nokia and other equipment vendors have end-to-end private network solutions, you can directly deploy private networks for large enterprises. If the operator also provides a dedicated private network solution, it will compete directly with its suppliers.
(2) Distribution of enterprise frequency band resources. The radio frequency band resources are very valuable. A few special industries have their own frequency band resources. These frequency bands are different from the unlicensed public spectrum. They are specific, private and strictly protected by relevant laws and regulations. Some industries have specialized private networks. In some industries, there are cases where the frequency band resources are idle. At this time, it provides better convenience for deploying private networks or private networks, but can operators persuade these users to take out frequency band resources, and operators Providing network services is indeed a challenge. But under the leadership of the United States, a new approach to spectrum using CBRS is beginning to catalyze the market. Organizations wishing to benefit from a proprietary LTE system can acquire spectrum based on their needs. In addition, as some countries consider auction spectrum on a regional basis, the prospects for private LTE become clearer as spectrum management and allocation methods change.
(3) Business model. The main business model for operators for the Internet of Things is to sell connections. If an end-to-end network solution is provided, new business models and cooperation methods should be explored.
There are few reports about LTE private networks. Operators provide users with more services than dedicated lines or virtual private networks, rather than a dedicated network isolated on the physical network. However, operators need to introduce a combination of multiple network technologies and products to meet the needs of the Internet of Things business. It is not excluded that the private network is also one of its product portfolios. The large-scale support of 5G networks for IoT applications has not yet arrived. Which applications are more suitable for 5G networks in the future, perhaps the private LTE network can give a preliminary answer.