The Inevitable Explosion of Enterprise 5G Networks
by Roy Timor-Rousso
Today, technological innovations are rapidly reshaping the landscape of a variety of industries, and none more so than the introduction of 5G. While 5G networks began rolling out in the United States and around the world in 2018, the technology is now expected to fuel transformative new technologies, not just for consumers but also for businesses, infrastructure, and defense applications. The rapid spread and adoption throughout the country has already led to the advent of private 5G networks.
Private 5G networks are simply networks that don’t share traffic with other cellular networks in the vicinity. The adoption of private 5G networks is gaining traction around the world as regulators allocate more spectrum to enterprises so they can build and maintain their own private 5G networks. The global private 5G network market size is estimated to reach USD 14.28 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 39.7 percent between now and then.
The growth of private 5G networks is due in part to the myriad of benefits offered by 5G, such as high data rates (1-20 Gbit/s), ultra-low latency (1 ms), high security, reliability, and scalability. But these private networks can also play a huge part when it comes to mission-critical situations, which are functions that are vital to an organization or society’s operation.
5G technologies offer a powerful platform with built-in support for the necessary critical capabilities, increased reliability, lower latency, and improved security, meeting the requirements of mission-critical applications. This opens new digital possibilities in nearly every industry, most of which would benefit both business and consumer alike.
When it comes to benefits and possibilities made possible by 5G, no industry has as much potential as the manufacturing industry. Driven by industry digitalization, known today as industry 4.0, new technologies such as IoT and AI are being applied to industrial networks. These bring new capabilities, such as factory-floor automation and flexibility, preventive maintenance, and remote asset control, but require high reliability, priority access, and low latency.
This is where newly available private 5G wireless networks can play an essential role, allowing manufacturers to leverage applications such as HD video, autonomous robots, and drones, improving work efficiency and safety at the same time. Production line flexibility, machine-to-machine communications, end-to-end logistics, and the “connected worker” are all made possible using mission-critical 5G private networks in manufacturing.
The education industry, much like manufacturing, is undergoing a massive digital transformation. The widespread adoption of technology has completely changed how teachers teach, and students learn, with many educational institutes looking at technology as an opportunity to build teaching methods and connect with students efficiently. At the primary and secondary levels, 93 percent of teachers are using digital tools to help guide instruction, with 56 percent believing data and digital tools make them a better teacher.
However, the recent growth of digital learning has highlighted a large digital gap in America, which in terms of education, has been deemed the homework gap. This gap, which is made up of nearly 17 million students, represents the children in the US who lack the adequate home internet access necessary for digital educational activities.
Mission-critical 5G private network would enable school districts to affordably give students from all local neighborhoods a centrally managed cellular network that keeps their critical online studying, class sessions, and coursework separate from all other traffic at home.
Digital education through these private networks would also allow for more personalized learning experiences based on the students’ preferences. Traditional education generally follows a one-size-fits-all approach that many say could hinder growth, but the adoption of 5G private networks would allow education organizations to create intelligent systems to understand the unique needs of each student and create targeted learning journeys.
Mission-critical 5G private networks can bring about the widespread adoption of Push-to-talk (PTT), a proven communications technology considered to be mission-critical in many environments. Use-cases for PTT can include airports, public safety, manufacturing plants, warehouses, mining and construction sites, hotel and hospitality venues, restaurants/retail, and assisted-living centers.
But of all the industries PTT use-cases cover, the most important is how the technology can be leveraged by first responders. PTT services connect first responders, transportation authorities, homeland security, other public agencies, and even utility emergency response teams, allowing for real-time information relays in an industry where every second counts.
Currently, in the first responder industry, 4G spectrum bands have become crowded impacting communications and data and video transmissions, but PTT over 5G networks may solve many of these issues with reliable low latency capabilities. On top of this, Land Mobile Radios (LMR), which are already used within the industry, can mesh with 5G to improve current communication powers. LMR interoperability with 5G includes designated channels for out-of-network, air-to-ground and vessel-to-shore, short distance, direct mode, travel channels that support moving convoys, and other communication modes unique to the needs of emergency responders.
Along with the first responders themselves, PTT enabled by 5G private networks benefits any consumer in the area where the private network is deployed. PTT technology enables consumers to make one-to-one (individual) calls, or one-to-many (group) calls to different groups of people at the same time over a mobile operator’s network. Whether it’s to contact public safety, or a company for support, or simply co-workers for collaboration, one press of a button on a rugged handheld device and you are talking to your group or an individual.
Overall, with the help of 5G private networks, mission-critical technologies are rapidly evolving, as public-private partnerships work through the technological challenges of interoperability to standardize protocols across networks and national borders. And as the spread, adoption, and use of 5G around the world continue, more mission-critical private networks will appear for the benefit of consumers and whole industries alike.
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