The Era of Private Networks is Well Underway: How Can You Benefit?


Private networks aren’t new, but the accelerated adoption of 5G among enterprises has brought them into the limelight. Matt Addicks, senior solutions manager at Cradlepoint, states that the word “potential” has trailed after private networks for too long and discusses why the age of private networks is now. 

Since much of the media spotlight over the past couple of years has shone brightest on the 5G rollout, the fifth-generation technology standard for cellular networks, private networks has patiently waited in 5G’s shadow to receive its due. But the technology didn’t sit idle. In the recent past, the private network’s refined capabilities attracted marquee investors and signed up scores of new enterprise customers.  

In all the fanfare surrounding 5G, many observers apparently didn’t realize that private networks have already proven their value proposition and made good on their early promise. In short, private networks have arrived.  

Anyone waiting to build a private network in the mistaken belief that private networks will only hit their stride once the telcos expand 5G coverage or when holders of priority access licenses (PAL) begin taping their hard-won Citizens Broadband Radio Service doesn’t understand the environment. At this very moment, 4G LTE-enabled private networks provide enough performance and capacity to handle most applications.  

Need more proof of private network’s trajectory? Think back to the scores of news reports last year that chronicled the river of smart money surging into the segment. Among the marquee companies that have announced plans to offer private network services to the enterprise sector during the past two years include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Dell.  

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The Age of Private Networks Is Now  

It says a lot when three of the world’s most storied tech titans are willing to enter the sector before 5G is made accessible in every corner of the country and with some of 5G’s current limitations, including the proximity requirements and inability of 5G millimeter waves to travel far. Yet, these companies are investing now. And by doing so, they’re not only validating the model but also the market demand.  

Private networks will see big growth, according to researchers. IDC estimatesOpens a new window that global sales of private 4G LTE/5G infrastructure will grow from $945 million in 2019 to $5.7 billion in 2024, an increase of 400%. Here’s another attractive element about private network’s growth the big players probably understand: 5G isn’t for everyone. For many applications, the added capacity and performance will not justify the price, at least initially.  

Private networks aren’t new. They’ve been around awhile, but the difference maker is that spectrum is available now, which makes it accessible to enterprises. The U.S. market turned white hot after the Federal Communications Commission auctioned off a highly sought-after spectrum in 2020. Numerous carriers and telcos paid huge sums to acquire priority licenses for the CBRS, enabling them to provide private wireless networks to enterprise customers at the 3.5 GHz band.    

Private Networks Offer More Control and Security 

For facilities that must provide a secure and reliable internet connection across a wide area, such as healthcare and education campuses, warehouses, factories, smart-city applications, utility and transportation companies — will likely find that a private network solves a host of problems.  

For starters, they offer more control. As the name implies, a private network differs from a public cellular network in that it provides exclusive access. That’s one of the reasons private networks offer more security. 

A private network requires fewer radios and hardware than providing wide-area coverage with legacy Wi-Fi. As we all know, there may be dead spots when accessing a publicly accessible cellular service. Perhaps in areas of a building or in some outdoor spots.   

In contrast, a private network guarantees high-quality connections. 

A Wide Range of Use Cases 

Not surprisingly, deployment of private networks is growing.  

      • Verizon announced last month that it had struck a deal to create a 5G network for The Port of Virginia. In March, the telecom announced a similar agreement to build a private network for BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. 
      • The AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, home of professional basketball’s San Antonio Spurs, said in July it planned to equip the arena with a private LTE/5G network.   
      • The city of Las Vegas last year deployed, what officials called, the country’s largest LTE/5G-ready private municipal network. According to a report in CitiesTodayOpens a new window , The Advanced Connectivity for Community and Economic Development (ACCED) network covers 65 square miles surrounding the downtown area and is accessible to city departments and students from the Clark County School District.  
      • The Utah Education & Telehealth Network launched a private network with assistance from the OnGo Alliance. OnGo is an industry coalition whose members include mobile operators, cable operators, and managed service providers (MSPs) among others. OnGo seeks to drive development, commercialization, and adoption of OnGo shared spectrum solutions. 

Finding the Right Partner is Key 

Companies or organizations wishing to build their own private network should start by talking to a system integrator or managed service provider. Creating a private network often requires collaboration between several service providers during the different set-up phases, and they can help navigate those nuances.  

Building private networks in the past have not been without their complexity. The key to a smoother, simpler process is finding experienced partners that can provide access to the right equipment and infrastructure as well as the right path to leveraging the available spectrum in your region. A handful of services offer end-to-end solutions, essentially providing a plug-and-play set-up.  

Lastly, it’s not an overstatement to say that for many industries, private networks will remake the way they connect to the Internet. This is a system which is ready to step into the limelight. As for any foot draggers out there, they stand to miss out.  

And again, for most enterprise customers and the problems they’re trying to solve, 4G LTE is providing high-performing solutions now. For many companies, waiting for 5G coverage before building a private network is like refusing to drive until the family station wagon is fitted with a Ferrari engine.  

Sure, it might work. But it’s unnecessary.  

Have you started building your private network? What are the hurdles you’re facing? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .