Home > What is a Private 4G/5G Mobile Network (PMN) and how can your business benefit from it?

What is a Private 4G/5G Mobile Network (PMN) and how can your business benefit from it?

company
September 29, 2022
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Zineb Gdali

A 4G & 5G Private Mobile Network is a dedicated mobile network for private use by a company or public administration, separate from public networks, to connect machines, vehicles, people, robots, tablets, and applications on campus, in a factory, or on a sensitive site. 

It means that a company can build its own mini AT&T or Vodafone network to cover the connectivity needs in its own facilities (warehouses, factories, office buildings, outdoor areas). Because it is financed by a single company, the private 4G/5G network will not be used by any unauthorized machine, vehicle, application or personnel outside of the enterprise. It can therefore provide a great level of security to the communications and guarantee the level of quality of service demanded by the enterprise.

Let’s take an example

Let’s take the example of WELD (fake name), a mid-size US welding machine manufacturer. WELD manufactures welding machines in one single large factory facility in Ohio and manages their logistics through 2 warehouses/logistic centers of 10 thousand square meter each. Spare parts and final products come in and come out of the site and go through several buildings and outdoor areas. They currently have several WiFi networks to manage non critical applications on PCs, tablets and barcode readers used by the staff on site. Their machines are connected via ethernet cables and WELD staff communicate within the company thanks to an aging DECT phones network (Cf. Wikipedia_Dect page).

Why is this not enough to manage WELD’s operations? Well part of their warehouses are experiencing WiFi blind spots that they have difficulty to overcome, preventing them from implementing a reliable indoor tracking/barcoding process. Their outdoor areas are not connected at all, meaning they lose track of products, people or vehicles when they go through these areas. This has a direct impact on their yearly results: they produce less than they could with more materials than they need. And while they extend their business regularly, they add new machines and move machines roughly every 6 months with the obligation to pull new costly ethernet cables.  

So what value can Private 4G or 5G bring to any similar business to WELD?

Indoor-outdoor coverage

Because 4G and 5G technologies have a better penetration and coverage capacity than WiFi, you can guarantee robust connectivity both indoor and outdoor with about 5 times less access points. One single outdoor 4G and 5G antenna can cover up to several miles.

Indoor coverage with heavily metallic structures

4G and 5G signals penetrate complex structures, including metallic buildings, buildings with lots of shelves, or high piles of dense materials inventory. Private 4G and 5G mean no more blind spots while minimizing the number of access points.

Asset tracking both indoor and outdoor

Thanks to its very low latency and high speed, 5G has the ability to locate assets very precisely in real time through the network (about 1 meter indoor precision).

Network security

5G provides data encryption, user and network authentication, and data integrity: 5G provides state-of-the-art encryption algorithms (using elliptical curves) to protect data exchanges within the mobile network.

User equipment and the network must authenticate each other before opening an encrypted data connection. The network ensures end-to-end data integrity. 

A fully private 5G network deployed only on an organization's premises allows absolute control over the network's hardware and software configuration, further securing communications.

Connect machines wirelessly and gain in flexibility

Connecting machines wirelessly enables the factory to be reconfigured in a short period of time, enhancing its capacity to sell more personalized products, more often, more quickly.

Network management as simple as WiFi

While Private 4G and 5G networks provide advanced features and support critical use cases, they can be managed by IT teams in the same simple way as WiFi. Supervision of Private 4G and 5G can be interfaced with other network supervision tools in such a way that it does not require any specific telecom expertise.

Boosting efficiency with a Private Mobile Network

Private 4G & 5G network has accelerated the transformation of the industrial sector towards Industry 4.0. Thanks to PMNs, companies can now exploit new revenue potentials, increase efficiency in their areas of activity while reducing power consumption. Bosch, for instance, reduced their power consumption by 40%, their inventory by 30%, and saved a total of $1M per year, per factory (https://www.bosch.com/stories/5g-industry-4-0/).

As 5G Private networks are expandable and modular, they make it easier to operate smart factories with a higher density of sensors and devices; they optimize communication on the shop floor and improve the security of IT and OT environments. 

Beyond increased throughput and efficiency, enhanced network security is among the top reasons for upgrading connectivity and communications solutions. Other technologies, such as WiFi, are perceived by executives as less than optimal for their security needs.

Why Now?

Since early 2020, governments in most developed countries with large manufacturing industries such as the US, UK, Germany, Japan, Korea, France, Brazil,... (Cf. latest spectrum status published by Netmanias): have released spectrum dedicated to private 4G and 5G. It means that any company can tap onto up to 100 Mhz of spectrum for their own use!

For which use cases? 

Organizations around the world are looking for secure, fast and easy-to-manage infrastructure that can provide them with reliable coverage inside buildings or in remote areas for voice or data communications. 

With LTE and 5G private networks meeting this need, the number of use cases for these networks is growing daily. Here are a few examples:

Warehouses: With a private LTE or 5G network, online retailers and warehouse operators can deploy robotic product picking, product tracking and other IoT warehousing applications in order to save manual handling, shipping errors or loss of pallets. 

Manufacturing: Manufacturing facilities can use private LTE and 5G networks to connect their IT systems to their manufacturing equipment, enabling them to deploy automated guided vehicles, remote control of machines and robots, manufacturing process monitoring, remote quality control, etc… In a recent survey by Nokia and ABI Research, 90% of manufacturing decision makers are exploring the use of 4G and/or 5G in their operations, and 84% are considering deploying their own 4G/5G wireless private LAN.

Airports, train stations, stadiums and other large public venues: Large public venues often need strong coverage inside and outside their facilities to meet the connectivity needs of their employees, IoT devices and hundreds or even thousands of visitors - private LTE and 5G networks can provide this coverage safely. 

You can check out our business stories page to further explore use cases of 4G and 5G Private Mobile Networks. 

Malls, theme parks, stadiums: Retailers such as malls, theme parks or stadiums are looking for robust outdoor connectivity. Their main needs go from internal communication to avoid failures when public cellular or private WiFi networks are overloaded, interactive kiosks to avoid heavily congested unlicensed environments, and backhaul to replace costly ethernet cables. 

A Private Mobile Network tailored to your needs 

At Firecell, we aim at democratizing Private 4G & 5G networks by making them as simple and affordable as WiFi. In order to achieve this, our Open-RAN 4G & 5G private network solution is agnostic to hardware in order to bring the overall network cost down (if you want to know more on what is O-Ran and what benefits it brings please check our website https://firecell.io/open-ran/). Whether you wish to test your own use cases, start a pilot within your own facilities or launch a private 5G network in your facilities, we have a solution for you. 

Firecell coordinates a project group named “OAI for Private 5G”. This group is composed of industrial companies or Telecom solution providers and defines a list of use cases to be handled in the context of industry 4.0 and Private networks. These use-cases will be implemented by an open Source community named “Open Air Interface” (https://openairinterface.org/).  Its main ambition is to build a complete, cloud-native solution for Private 5G. If you'd like to know more and participate in the project, please join us.

You can get started with your pilot or deployment by filling out this contact form.

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