Ever since the inception of 5G technology, telecom operators have been involved in the deployment of the wireless network and continuously expanding it globally. MNOs are conducting testing with pro 5G Network Testing Equipment and tools & 5G Speed Tests Tools; pro RF drive test tools to build and optimise the network. As 5G network is making advancements in terms of deploying various new-age applications and services, private 5G network has gained the spotlight to facilitate connectivity in most organisations.
Private 5G is deployed on a dedicated frequency of 3.5GHz (called CBRS spectrum in the US). There are several open-source APIs available in the marketplace to assist MNOs to build private 5G networks. Generally, such networks are deployed in several locations owned or occupied by the enterprise and reside on-premises. Having said that, multiple types of users and authorised network devices connected via IoT technology can operate privately in the presence of network with no intervention of a public network. The configuration of private 5G varies and can be customised depending on the operational needs of the organisation.
Importance of private 5G networks
Enterprises across all verticals are eager to create applications that will take the benefits of 5G latency, speed, and capacity. Let us deep-dive into the various IoT use cases that can be enabled by private 5G networks:
Ports: Generally, port areas are big with spaces open all around and full of metals – mobile in nature, which is a hindrance for radio nodes to communicate in such regions. Most of the port applications and/or equipments ranging from cranes to trucks to shipping containers – are plying over the area and can be in motion at any moment. This makes wireless networks communicate hardly especially in IoT use cases like tracking assets for routine maintenance or conducting smart contracts. Built with new radio waveforms, private 5G can perform well in a metal-cluttered environment that is quite challenging for 4G and Wi-Fi. 5G’s enhanced bandwidth and network cutting aptitudes allow it to track movements of several items more than thousands in numbers across a large area.
Smart factories: Robotic implementations are continuously growing, and robots require a huge amount of data about their surroundings to perform and stay on duty. IoT data transferred from Wi-Fi connections often has dead spots/missing data in dense sweatshop situations. Even other wireless technologies are unable to meet the latency or bandwidth requirements to keep robots moving. However, this issue can be solved with private 5G which supports navigation and positioning of robots in a precise manner within 10 cms (centimetres) of accuracy.
Interim remote working: One of the benefits of private 5G is that it can be implemented for the short term. For instance, setting up a private 5G network to perform one-week operations in remote areas for logging sites. Not dropping the ‘Industry 4.0’ concept, deploying a temporary 5G private network for the specified time and pack it up when the project is completed. This permits even the most remote applications to be able to track and maintain machinery, accurately geo-fence on the area for workers to log, adding smart tags to the timber. This will help in tracking and verify as sustainably harvested.
Who are all working on private 5G IoT use cases?
The rich capabilities of 5G will surely benefit industrial and enterprise operations with the utilisation of more sensors and discarding wires for enhanced observability. Few examples of enterprises deploying these networks are as given below:
- Vodafone and Ford collaborated to develop a private 5G network in the latter’s E:PriME (Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering) plant in Essex, England. The idea behind this alliance is to close the connectivity gap in critical automated operations and/or processes such as welding – extensively used in electric vehicle’s parts; enable secured network connectivity throughout the Ford factory area.
- Centrica, UK-based energy and services MNC, entered into a partnership with Vodafone to establish the pilot 5G-enabled mobile private network (MPN). Built at its Easington plant for the oil and gas sector, digitisation of the ecosystem that can empower mission-critical monitoring, communications, and control in real-time to enhance worker safety were some of the objectives to be achieved through this collaboration.
- The Belgian Port of Zeebrugge joined hands with Nokia to deploy an end-to-end 5G private network to track, analyse, and handle connected devices via IoT technology. The network was utilised to monitor several port-based applications in real-time and bolster the use of 5G drones, Augmented Reality applications, and drones.
The needs of enterprise users and their requirements to improve application performance are key to the development of the 5G system. This motivates the wireless mobile network operators to address the opportunity and expand the mobile systems and services market. Private 5G IoT use cases will create confidence in the technological roadmap among customers. Moreover, organisational leaders stand to improve their responsiveness to customer demands, transformation in supply chains, their resilience to disruptive occurrences, improve their operational efficiencies, all to strengthen their brand presence with the power of private 5G network.