Private 5G networks are a lucrative opportunity – but for who?

5G is regularly touted as an enabler for many enterprise applications, ranging from autonomous vehicles to IoT networks in factories, warehouses and oil platforms. When considering 5G for such uses, enterprises have a choice between connecting end points to a public 5G network, or choosing to pay for private 5G connectivity.

Within the world of the private 5G network, there are numerous sub-options that enterprises must negotiate. These range from deploying their own infrastructure with support from a mobile operator, to bypassing the operator entirely and building and maintaining their own network based on their own spectrum.

The size of the private mobile network opportunity is enormous, particularly as 5G networks bring low latency, high bandwidth network into new types of location. But private cellular connectivity is also a disruptive threat to traditional stakeholders in the networking space, a leading analyst has argued.

Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services, Service Provider & Communications with Omdia said it is time for telcos, as well as vendors of networking equipment, to work out where they fit into the private mobile network ecosystem before they lose out.

“In certain countries of the world, 5G spectrum has been made available and regulation changed so that businesses can get their own private spectrum,” she pointed out. “What you can achieve with these private networks has changed fundamentally. Lots of companies are considering what they could do with their own network, which means telcos could potentially stand to lose – or gain – a lot of business.”

Telcos, she argued, may need to think outside the confines of their traditional wide area role and, in effect, become a local area network partner for enterprises looking at mobile private network options.

“Telcos could adapt and move into areas they weren’t into before,” she explained. “There’s a huge opportunity for them to win revenue here and provide services on an end to end basis. They could help certain industries to transform – ones that have been relying on quite old-fashioned networks. In some cases we are seeing telcos form partnerships with vendors, the likes of Nokia for instance, or with specialist integrators. The partnerships are looking to sell solutions together. There are opportunities ranging from autonomous vehicles to healthcare to smart cities.”

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