What is a Private 5G Network?

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IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other smart technologies have become an integral part of modern enterprise operations, but in order to make these technologies work as intended, organizations have to find a network that provides them with the appropriate latency, storage, and security features. The private 5G network, a private local area network (LAN) created via 5G cellular technologies and edge device connections, is one networking tool that enterprises are turning toward to meet a higher network traffic demand and real-time communication requirements. Read on to learn how private 5G works and the advantages it provides to smart industries that require quick and reliable network coverage. 

Also Read: Utilizing Private Cellular Networks for Enterprise Connectivity

The Rise of the Private 5G Network

Public vs. Private 5G Networks

Although private 5G cellular technology works the same way on private 5G networks as it does on public 5G networks, its purpose is entirely different when dedicated to a singular bandwidth for one organization’s people. With public 5G networks, a mobile network operator (MNO) owns and manages both the spectrum and the infrastructure behind 5G. All customers who are on services with the MNO more or less receive the same level of access to the network. 

With private 5G networks, companies typically purchase wireless spectrum from an MNO or government entity, and then they are tasked with managing access and features of the infrastructure solely for their enterprise users who access the private network. Many companies choose to invest in private 5G networks because they can develop a dedicated bandwidth for their team, avoiding the lower latency that comes with high public traffic, as well as the potential security concerns associated with wider public access.

Especially in efforts to globalize smart technology development, private 5G networks are a key advantage. They make it possible to bring dedicated 5G connectivity to any location where an enterprise is willing to invest in the technology and infrastructure to set up the network. Even in areas of the world where public 5G is not widely available, organizations can use privatized 5G technology and spectrum services to access 5G. 

How Do Private 5G Networks Work?

Private 5G networks are set up in much the same way as public 5G networks; however, the primary managers for the network are members of the company’s team rather than the mobile network operators who manage more generalized public networks. In both types of 5G networks, edge devices are the primary transmitters of service and information. They use wireless spectrum to send data to network infrastructure like local cellular base stations and other access points. These physical points in the network then transfer data to the enterprise’s internal private network through a wired connection. To reverse the process, network technologies can also transmit data back to edge devices.

There are two primary steps involved in setting up a private 5G network:

  • Purchase spectrum, a collection of unique wireless frequencies, from the government, mobile network operators, or third-party spectrum providers.
  • Get 5G equipment from network infrastructure providers and connect this equipment to edge devices in the area.

It’s important to note that devices involved in private 5G connections must meet certain criteria:

  • Able to operate on the network’s wireless spectrum
  • Interoperability and integration potential between 5G equipment and chosen edge devices

Also Read: Intelligent Connectivity: What Combining 5G, AI and IoT Means for Different Industries

Important Features of a Private 5G Network

Private 5G networks cannot provide their low-latency services to enterprises until they’ve invested in the appropriate mobile connections and equipment:

  • Spectrum access: In order to make private 5G work privately, enterprises have to purchase a dedicated spectrum of wireless frequencies for their mobile connection.
  • 5G hardware and equipment: In the private 5G design, enterprises have to obtain 5G hardware and equipment that mobile service companies traditionally have managed for public networks. This equipment includes base stations, mini-towers, small cells, and next-generation wireless 5G radio antennas.
  • Edge devices: 5G is able to transmit data and communications so quickly because edge devices distribute and offset centralized bandwidth needs, thus improving latency. Most organizations rely on embedded modules and nodes in their facilities, but other devices, such as smartphones, routers, and gateways, can also provide the needed edge connection.
  • Partners and systems integrators: Few organizations have the internal knowledge necessary to fully set up their private 5G networks, and likely even fewer know how to connect their existing tools and systems to this service. Third-party partners and systems integrators specialize in this kind of technology and make sure that all of your network tools are appropriately configured.
  • Regulatory features: Particularly when more decentralized tools like edge devices enter the picture, it’s important that organizations embed regulatory features and policies so that private data can still be managed and secured against unauthorized users.

Also Read: The Future of Fixed 5G Networks is Now

Benefits of Private 5G Networks

Smart manufacturers and other industries primarily implement private 5G networks because they require ultra-low latency, but companies of all backgrounds are watching the private 5G pioneers to see how they fare. So far, private 5G users have enjoyed these benefits:

Smart Technology Development

5G provides the processing capacity and ultra-low latency for smart technologies. This has made it possible for organizations to develop smart factories with predictive maintenance, humanoid robotic operations, new IoT devices, advanced AI/ML tools, and other innovations.

Isolated Cellular Environment

Privatized network space helps highly competitive industries to manage large amounts of network traffic and big data transmission, all without having to deal with the interference of public traffic. The isolated design is also inherently more secure, preventing non-company users from easily accessing the service.

5G Benefits Wherever You Are

Because private 5G effectively provides the same benefits as public 5G on a more focused scale, enterprise users will reap typical 5G benefits, including increased bandwidth, high data rates, low latency, high security, reliability, and scalability. Enterprises are able to enjoy these 5G benefits wherever they’re willing to set up 5G infrastructure, even if that area of the globe does not currently have public access to 5G.

More on 5G and Security: Approaches to Cybersecurity in 5G-driven Enterprise Networks

Does Your Enterprise Need a Private 5G Network?

The average company has not yet dipped their toes into the private 5G pool, but many companies that are working to develop advanced supply chain and consumer service technologies have started to manage their own 5G network. The majority of current private 5G experiments are carried out by organizations in these categories:

Low Latency and Manufacturing

Enterprises that are building infrastructure or products that require extremely low latency. This is particularly common in the manufacturing industry, where smart factories, digital twins, edge devices, AR, and IoT devices are being developed and used to manage operational processes. However, other industries, such as healthcare, are beginning to test out this technology for precise, real-time operations like robotic surgery.

Large Mobile User Populations

Organizations with a large number of mobile users are starting to use private 5G so that they can improve network traffic speeds for users and also more securely manage the types of traffic that occur on their network. Some of the facilities that are receiving dedicated 5G equipment currently include airports, major amusement parks, large universities, and stadiums, all places where thousands of users might need dependable network access simultaneously.

Again, the average organization does not yet want or even need the dedicated services of a private 5G network. But much like previous generations of cellular technology, industries of all kinds are watching closely to see if the cost of implementation will be worth it for their own business model.

Read Next: Going Beyond 5G: What to Expect from a 6G Future

Shelby Hiter
Shelby Hiter
Shelby Hiter is a writer with more than five years of experience in writing and editing, focusing on healthcare, technology, data, enterprise IT, and technology marketing. She currently writes for four different digital publications in the technology industry: Datamation, Enterprise Networking Planet, CIO Insight, and Webopedia. When she’s not writing, Shelby loves finding group trivia events with friends, cross stitching decorations for her home, reading too many novels, and turning her puppy into a social media influencer.

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