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Private Wireless Networks Explained

Private Wireless Networks Explained

It is widely recognized that 5G provides significant benefits to Industry 4.0 by offering ultra-high bandwidth, ultra-low latency data communication at a large scale. This allows technologies such as digital twins, augmented reality, and robots to function effectively. Being the first platform to expand beyond the telecommunications industry, 5G is now seen as a crucial element in enabling digitalization across all sectors. But there is more : private 5G networks. A huge game changer that will bring a lot of value. Let’s dive into this new and exciting trend that could change everything.

What Are Private Wireless Networks?

Private wireless networks provide wireless broadband connectivity similar to public wireless networks but with the added advantage of being owned and controlled by the organization that deployed it. Previously, organizations had limited options for deploying private wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi or proprietary network technologies like LoRa or Sigfox. These legacy private networks were suitable for connecting laptops to the Internet and for basic Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications. However, their coverage and security limitations, incompatibility with public cellular networks, and high management costs made it difficult to use them for advanced IIoT applications. 

Recently, private cellular networks using 4G and 5G technologies have become a popular choice for many organizations. These networks offer the coverage, security, and other capabilities required for advanced IIoT applications and are compatible with public cellular networks. Additionally, the long-term management costs for these networks are often lower compared to other wireless technologies.

The Benefits of Private Networks  

Private networks provide many benefits to organizations due to their exclusive and controlled nature. They have been created to meet the needs of companies seeking the highest level of availability and performance. This solution addresses the limitations of commercial carriers and other wireless technologies (and we are not even talking about wire solutions). And the key benefits are numerous.

Enhanced Security

Private cellular networks allow administrators full control over their data management and routing, keeping sensitive information separate from other devices within the network. This eliminates the risk of third-party service providers mismanaging or compromising the security of your data.

The networks are encrypted by default, providing stronger security and device identification compared to Wi-Fi networks that may rely on pre-shared key passwords or open password-free options.

Customized Coverage

Private cellular networks are designed to meet the unique coverage and performance needs of enterprises in various industries and conditions. Organizations can use a combination of small cells, roof-mounted antennas, and indoor and outdoor access points to achieve their desired coverage.

For industries such as manufacturing and energy, private cellular networks provide cellular access in areas where it would otherwise be impossible, using their own hardware to overcome environmental limitations in rural work sites. It is also highly beneficial for companies with a very large footprint or those with multiple buildings in a widespread area.

Guaranteed Service Levels

Private cellular networks give administrators the ability to ensure that each application receives the necessary resources, including exact latency and throughput requirements. It gives greater control over the available resources compared to standard quality of service settings or virtual LANs.

Ultra-Reliable Connections

Private cellular networks offer seamless handover between access points, making this technology suitable for large areas. For example, when you’re on the move, you may not even notice when your phone switches from one cell tower to another. This reliability is crucial for low-latency applications like augmented reality and autonomous machines, and private 5G networks provide the speed, capacity, and reliability required for enterprises to scale with confidence. From the office to the warehouse, the labs or the factory, your connections will never let you down.

Unmatched Scalability

Private cellular networks are designed to cover a wider area with less hardware and hassle, providing enterprises with faster deployment of new services and improved customer reach, especially for larger businesses.

How Private Networks Work  

A private cellular network is a localized network that employs licensed, shared, or unlicensed wireless frequencies and leverages 4G or 5G technology to establish a specialized network designed to meet an enterprise’s specific needs within a particular region. The infrastructure of these networks is owned by the company, and combined with backend software to deliver customized cellular coverage and application-specific services. Additionally, these private networks frequently integrate with existing Wi-Fi, enabling companies to have a dependable and low-latency network for critical applications and devices.

Security Considerations to Keep in Mind With Private Networks  

Private 5G networks are a relatively new but growing method of providing connectivity for devices in an enterprise network, from small IoT sensors to autonomous robots to workers’ laptops. These networks offer a host of benefits beyond what is provided by a typical Wi-Fi network today.

5G networks are designed with security features that ensure the protection of data transmission in the air. Private cellular networks, being closed and exclusive, offer an even higher level of security, but they are not immune to cyber attacks. This is why partnering with experienced providers is essential. Maintaining security is a complex task that requires a collaborative effort from all parties within the organization and its ecosystem. With each new device added to the network, proper provisioning, security, and management measures must be taken to safeguard against potential cyber threats. The increasing adoption of 5G private networks and the wide range of deployment scenarios also increases the potential targets for cyberattacks. While no network is fully protected from cyberattack, 5G Private Networks are among the most secure and resilient (specifically compared to Wi-Fi).

Private wireless networks offer a host of benefits for organizations looking for reliable and secure connectivity solutions. They provide improved coverage, security, and advanced capabilities for IIoT applications. While private networks inherently offer higher security compared to public networks, it’s important for organizations to work with experienced partners and adopt automation and orchestration tools to effectively manage and protect their network. As private wireless networks continue to develop, it is essential for organizations to stay informed and keep up with the latest technologies and best practices to ensure their networks remain secure and optimized for their specific needs.