Private Mobile Networks – October 2020 – Market Status Update
The demand for private mobile networks based on LTE (and increasingly 5G) technologies is being driven by the spiralling data, security, digitisation and enterprise mobility requirements of modern business and government entities. Organisations of all types are combining connected systems with big data and analytics to transform operations, increase automation and efficiency or to deliver new services to their users. Wireless networking with LTE or 5G enables these transformations to take place even in dynamic, remote or highly secure environments, while offering the scale benefits of a technology that has already been deployed worldwide.
The arrival of LTE-Advanced systems delivered a step change in network capacity and throughput, while 5G networks have brought improved density (support for larger numbers of users or devices), even greater capacity again, as well as dramatic improvements to latency that enable use of mobile technology for time-critical applications.
In addition to companies looking to develop their own private mobile networks for the first time, there is a large base of potential customers who currently operate LMR/PMR private networks based on technologies such as TETRA, P25 and DMR. These customers are demanding critical broadband services that are simply not available from alternative technologies and consequently, private mobile networks based on LTE and 5G have the potential to eventually replace much of this market.
The exact number of existing private mobile network deployments is hard to determine, as details are not often made public. Excluding the companies holding CBRS PAL licences in the USA (except those known to be undertaking private rather than public mobile network projects using the spectrum), and more than 150 local spectrum licences in Netherlands (that are due to expire in the next couple of years and are the subject of spectrum restructuring plans), available data suggests that at least 330 companies have been or are investing in private mobile networks based in LTE or 5G, in the form of trials and pilot deployments, commercial network launches or investment in licences that would enable deployment of private LTE or 5G networks. This is likely to be a substantial underestimate of the overall global market.
In order to improve information about this market, GSA is now maintaining a database of private LTE and 5G networks and spectrum worldwide. That database now catalogues specific information about more than 150 of those deployments to enable analysis about the evolution of the private mobile networks market and is being added to on an ongoing basis. This report is the second in a series that will track the evolution of this sector of the industry.
Benefits and buyers
The benefits of deploying private mobile networks based on LTE or 5G can include:
· security and data control: with full separation from wider public mobile networks.
· access to services: in locations not reached by public mobile networks (improved coverage indoors, in remote areas or in underground locations).
· flexibility: mobile networks can be used in dynamic environments where equipment needs to move about and where fixed cabling either gets in the way or is costly to reconfigure or relocate.
· improved quality of service: where licence-exempt technologies such as WiFi cannot meet an organisation’s capacity, mobility, coverage, availability, latency, failover or throughput requirements.
· customisation: the parameters of the networks can be configured (and reconfigured) to meet an organisation’s exact specifications.
· integration with wider public mobile networks where services are required outside the private campus or regional network (only realistically possible through roaming onto a public mobile operator’s network).
Private mobile networks can deliver voice (including VoLTE or soon, voice over new radio), text, data and video services and can be used to connect machines, sensors and devices (IoT) and computing systems, as well as people. As a result of substantial and ongoing work by 3GPP, private mobile networks can also support mission-critical communications requirements, making them suitable as legacy LMR/PMR replacements for government and emergency service organisations.
The various capabilities and benefits listed above all combine to mean that private mobile networks based on LTE or 5G can offer advantages over all other means of connecting systems, including legacy technologies (such as PMR), alternative wireless technologies (such as WiFi) or cabled systems (including fibre).
Private Mobile Networks – October 2020