5G private networks will change tomorrow's key industries. Source: Shutterstock

5G private networks will change tomorrow’s key industries. Source: Shutterstock

The CXO’s guide to decrypting the private 5G network

EVERYONE has been talking about 5G for the past few months, and it’s expected to become a reality by the middle of next  year— but companies aren’t waiting for public 5G deployments.

Businesses, provided they have the resources, are keen on exploring private 5G networks and hope to use it to drive their next biggest competitive advantage.

When 3GPP’s Release 16 is issued in late 2019/early 2020, experts believe that companies will be able to use the unlicensed spectrum in the new 5G New Radio (NR) spec create their own priate 5G networks.

Although these network deployments will be more local, they’re expected to facilitate specialized applications and help bring IoT devices to life — allowing companies to truly transform how they operate.

In fact, experts believe that 5G could take ‘thin-clients’ to a whole new level, allowing edge computing to connect with and compute results remotely, through its low-latency networks. This will effectively make edge devices (such as security cameras and interactive monitors) cheaper as negligible on-board computing power is needed.

To put things in perspective, here’s how and why private 5G networks are so interesting to businesses:

Robotics and artificial intelligence have made it possible to create machines that automatically carry out complex tasks.

However, in order for them to operate, they need to relay back the information they collect, in real time, to processors that can read that information and pass on commands to the device.

Over standard wi-fi, mobile, and other existing network options, this is difficult to do and when things get disconnected, the potential for damage is great. Further, as connections are slow, real-time data transmission, processing, and relaying back commands to be carried out will be quite slow.

However, 5G overcomes all these problems and proves itself as the perfect communications channel for this service.

Companies such as Audi, BMW, Diamler, and Volkswagen are thinking about implementing this technology, alongwith companies in the oil and gas, chemicals, utilities, and shipping industry.

In Europe, for example, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, and the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) are testing 5G over a 8,000 hectare plot to understand how the technology can be used for business applications.

“5G offers a level of security, reliability and speed that current mobile networks are unable to match. It provides the HPA with a wholly new set of application options. The testbed allows us to study the future technology and co-shape the standard, which will not only benefit the port but the entire city of Hamburg,” said HPA CEO Jens Meier recently.

“The 5G trial programme in the Port of Hamburg opens the door to a whole new world of business applications that have the potential to change a lot of sectors.

“The aim is to considerably speed up industrial processes and make them more flexible.

“We will test all that in Hamburg under real life conditions for the first time. The importance of the project simply cannot be overstated,” a Nokia spokesperson said told Port Technology.

Unlike previous generations, 5G will significantly benefit telecommunications companies as much as it benefits end users. Private companies will need to engage with them to a greater degree in order to build their own 5G network, which will bring in revenues in addition to operating the public 5G network.

At the end of the day, a private 5G network isn’t the right solution for everyone, but it can definitely take industries such as manufacturing and automobile quite far by breathing life into their new-age equipment — provided they’re willing to make the investment.