The Wireless Private Network Market
Private wireless networks offer cellular connections to an enterprise's resources for any employee who needs to access them, regardless of their location. Private wireless networks can be restricted to one physical location, such as a warehouse or office building, or extend to remote locations across an entire country.
Traditionally, company networks run on Wi-Fi, especially office buildings. But Wi-Fi has its limitations: it can't, for instance, support the extreme speeds and connectivity that Industry 4.0 demands.
Industries such as mining, construction, and manufacturing often require working outside or in other environments that don't have wireless technology installed. If the tech exists, it's crude, and it doesn't provide real-time updates.
Private wireless networks can solve the industrial problems that Wi-Fi can’t, because the hardware installation is more flexible, and the connection is more reliable.
See below to learn more about the market:
A private wireless network is either a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) created by a business for its internal use or purchased from a network provider. The difference between a public network and a private network is availability:
Public wireless networks, such as Verizon Nationwide, are available to a diverse group of customers from different companies as well as individuals
Private wireless networks, such as Verizon Wireless Private Network, are offered as a service to individual companies
Like cell phones and cellular networks operate, private wireless networks take advantage of technologies such as LTE or 5G to enable power-intensive applications:
- Reliable alerts and updates when something goes wrong
- Autonomous or partially autonomous vehicles or assembly line technology
- Wearable technology for employees
- Virtual, augmented, or mixed reality to train employees or simulate business scenarios
Corporate campuses sometimes use private wireless networks. Courtesy Adobe.
Instead of routers and lengthy cables, private wireless networks use cellular hardware to transmit data through radio signals.
It's not practical for manufacturing or construction enterprises to string extensive cabling around their premises. And Wi-Fi, though a type of wireless network, doesn't provide the levels of speed and network connectivity that many companies need to keep up.
Industry 4.0 is a term for the fourth phase of the Industrial Revolution. While the third phase encompassed computing advances, data processing, and IT, the fourth includes technologies such as LTE, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, Industry 4.0 brings high-speed connectivity and low latency to industrial companies that previously didn't have good technology, because Wi-Fi isn't built to optimize their businesses.
In some cases, private wireless networks may require less hardware than a conventional Wi-Fi setup. At the very least, they provide scalability. If a warehouse, mine, or construction site needs to expand, network users can simply add the corresponding radio access network (RAN) technology to continue using the network.
Private wireless networks allow enterprises to work around most geographic or site limitations to provide essential connectivity to their employees.
Wireless network providers recognize the need for widespread and fast connectivity to a single company network. All types of remote and field employees must be able to access a company network, and technologies such as advanced LTE or 5G enable them to quickly access applications and data.
Private wireless networks also can help enterprises tap into IoT and potentially even millimeter-wave technologies.
Companies in construction and agriculture benefit from real-time updates to weather changes, for example. The increased speed and reliability of radio access networks, which private wireless often uses, allows companies to receive more timely and accurate data. Sometimes this data can make a difference in their financial performance or save lives.
Enterprise private wireless networks improve security for businesses, because only employees from the organization are permitted to access the network. Rather than using an internet service provider, enterprises communicate through cellular signals, helping to secure important enterprise applications.
The United States has the largest 5G private network share in the international market, and the Asia Pacific region is expected to grow most rapidly over the next seven years, according to a report by Grand View Research.
Manufacturing and transportation and logistics are the two industries with the largest market share of 5G private wireless networks.
LTE and 5G networks use either licensed or unlicensed spectrum and radio access network technology with cells and base stations.
Three cellular providers offer notable private wireless networks: Verizon, AT&T, and Nokia.
Verizon's wireless access point solution, its Wireless Private Network, caters to large companies that require mobile or IoT connectivity to data that must be securely stored and accessed, such as health care data.
The Wireless Private Network allows employees in remote locations and the field to access the company private network regardless of their physical proximity. Verizon uses split data routing to funnel traffic in the private network connection.
Verizon's private wireless solution is available everywhere that standard Verizon Wireless also exists.
Verizon recently partnered with the Port of Southampton in England and installed the first enterprise private wireless network in the port system. The private network uses Nokia's cloud application platform and improves supply chain efficiency at the port.
Cellular provider AT&T offers its Private Wireless Network for Enterprise, a solution for wide area networks that can be used to expand a network more widely to create mobile end points.
AT&T uses network segmentation to tunnel enterprise data as it moves to AT&T mobility data centers. Radio access network data is encrypted.
Nokia's Industrial-grade Private Wireless solution uses its Digital Automation Cloud or the Modular Private Wireless platform. Users have the choice to install the solution as a stand-alone 5G solution. Nokia's private wireless network is intended for industrial use:
- Site cameras
- Autonomous industrial vehicles
- Wearable technology for employees
Industrial-grade Private Wireless can be installed either indoors or outdoors with base transceivers and cells. Through its solution, which can be either 5G or advanced 4G — known as 4.9G or 4.9G/LTE — Nokia provides cellular connectivity.
When asked about the current and developing market for private wireless networks, Stephane Daeuble, the head of marketing for Nokia Enterprise Solutions, said that 2020 was the first year that such networks could achieve successful, reliable wireless connectivity.
"Most of the machine, sensor, tool, vehicle and personal protective equipment (PPE) now available can come equipped with an LTE/4.9G chipset integrated,” Daeuble said.
“And for larger machines, vehicles and cameras that don’t have an integrated chip, there are now many rugged external LTE modems and routers to use to connect them. This makes Industry 4.0 transformation possible in virtually any situation and industrial segment."
Private wireless networks are one of the most recent methods for enterprises to have reliable network connections and access applications and data from a variety of devices and locations.
Companies have the option to design and deploy their own private wireless systems or to purchase one from a provider, such as Verizon, AT&T, or Nokia. Private wireless installations include small cells and base stations for technology such as LTE, 4G, or 5G.
Recent advanced LTE technology, or 4.9G, is popular for enterprises that don't need 5G speeds yet. Advanced LTE also provides high-speed, reliable connectivity for real-time data and systems such as sensors and wearable tech.
Though 5G is a valid option for enterprises, Nokia's Daeuble believes that 4.9G/LTE is a better solution for the time being.
"When Nokia Bell Labs did a deep dive on the uses industries and enterprises have for private wireless, it showed that the performance of 4.9G/LTE was good enough for more than 85 percent of today’s applications."
In the future, 5G cells will be easy to add to 4.9G/LTE private networks when it's time to migrate to 5G, according to Daeuble.