5G Private Networks: What are the benefits and the Future for Consumers?
Let’s break it down…
Wi-Fi versus Private LTE versus Private 5G
There are three wireless networking technologies businesses can use to handle their core network needs. Wi-Fi is the default for most businesses. Private LTE is a more expensive version when Wi-Fi just won’t work. Private 5G Network is the new kid on the block that promises to add functionality only available through the ability to handle large data feeds and live video.
Wi-Fi is the wireless network most people are familiar with.
Wi-Fi is used for local area networks and internet access. It is the most widely used network in the world and is most often the technology of choice for small home and office network environments.
You probably have a Wi-Fi router in your home that you use to connect various devices in your home (TV, tablet, computer, mobile phone, home security devices, HVAC system, etc.) Your business’ office locations likely run Wi-Fi to connect with the internet and company databases.
The great thing about Wi-Fi is it is cheap, easy to set up, and simple to use. You just plug a unit into the wall, quickly connect it to your broadband source, do some very basic software configuration, and you’re up and running.
Want to connect more office devices to the network? Just provide the login and password, and in a few minutes they’re operational.
While this seems like a great solution for most business networks, it isn’t ideal for specific situations. Range is limited, so if you have a large, spread-out business operation, you may need several Wi-Fi devices or extenders to cover everything. Security can also be a problem for companies where classified or privacy requirements are paramount, as Wi-Fi can be easily hacked.
Private LTE takes over where Wi-Fi leaves off.
Private LTE leverages the basic office-based Wi-Fi network concept and produces a more workable solution in environments that aren’t hospitable to Wi-Fi technology.
Private LTE has been used for large business campuses where users are spread out geographically, and the shorter carry distances of Wi-Fi makes these networks a less than optimal solution. It is also the preferred choice for mission-critical and security-minded companies in industries such as defense, mining, and manufacturing. Private LTE provides increased control over network usage and better connection monitoring.
Private 5G pushes the Private LTE model to the next level.
Private 5G delivers lower latency, higher bandwidth and increased reliability versus LTE and Wi-Fi. It can handle increased workloads driven by the proliferation of connected devices – whether that demand is created by concentrated groups of mobile phone users or individual connected sensors tied to manufacturing components and systems.
Greater bandwidth and higher speeds mean more devices can be connected. 5G technology enables new applications like IoT and Machine-to-Machine functionality to become marketable. In addition, businesses can increasingly take advantage of technologies that were previously difficult to implement – Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) applications for instance – even drone inspections.
While 5G provides some big benefits, the backend management all those devices can be a challenge.triPica’s platform can help smooth out many of the private 5G bumps. From easy eSIM activation and account management with its Agent Tool, where you get a 360-degree view of the customer account, to invoicing complex service offerings at the product level, in real time, to detailing out individual device/sensor usage leveraging triPica’s analytics and business intelligence tools.
5G Private Networks Business Implementations
Let’s look a little deeper at how two industries are benefitting from 5G private network implementations today.
Manufacturing sites, with large-scale operations, repeatable processes, and machines that today handle much of the manufacturing production workload, are an ideal fit for private 5G implementations.
• Remote monitoring of production facilities ensure specifications are adhered to and procedures are followed for contract compliance.
• Equipment health can be assessed through IoT sensors installed on machines to provide critical warnings and alerts when machines start to fail or need routine maintenance.
• Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV’s), which often transport heavy materials, can be operated effectively without service interruption. Heavy equipment, magnetic fields, and line-of-sight limitations of industrial facilities often result in spotty Wi-Fi connections due to interference. 5G can overcome those obstacles and deliver continuous connectivity.
• Real-time video analytics, benefitting from the low-latency advantage of 5G, enables automated visual quality inspections, safety protocol compliance, real-time hazard alerts, and perimeter surveillance intrusion warnings.
While the more predictable manufacturing environment gains many benefits from the 5G Private Network model, healthcare is another arena where Private 5G can make a difference, ultimately delivering better patient outcomes.
Healthcare is a big beneficiary of the 5G technology boom. Developing 5G private networks for hospital systems and links to other top hospitals and research centers nationwide mean patients can gain top quality care no matter which hospital they choose. No longer dependent on the quality (or lack thereof) of the local hospital offerings, many more patients can benefit.
• Medical robots can scoot throughout an infectious lab or hospital ward after an outbreak (as seen with Covid-19). The speed, reliability and quality of a 5G network allows for patient care alternatives that reduce clinician risk.
• The pandemic opened up Telehealth options too. Leveraging connected wearable technologies, patient vitals can alert doctors when a critical threshold is exceeded. Video checkups can incorporate AI technology to diagnose health issues from video sessions – reducing the need for costly and time consuming in-person doctor visits.
• Remote surgery, once something out of a sci-fi movie, is now possible. The reliability, speed, and quality of a 5G connection can allow patients, who may not be located close to a top medical center, access to the best medical resources through a virtual link.
Future Consumer Applications of the 5G Private Network Model
How might 5G private networks play out for consumers?
While current 5G private networks focus mostly on industries that can make the most of the technology AND pay the hefty price tag, consumers are currently only seeing the benefits of 5G in the public carrier space.
Let’s look at some ways B2B 5G private network benefits might translate into the B2C world.
Smart home devices, like Amazon Alexa, can control everything from the lights to outlets to appliances, Nest units let you control your home’s temperature from afar, and Ring delivers wireless home security.
While there is an ever-growing list of devices that allow you do handle most everything in your home remotely, they are also dependent on your home Wi-Fi connection. As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi can be hacked. Nothing worse than having someone stalking you through your connected home.
Could a company offer mini-5G private network sold for home use? The home consumer gains the speed and security of a 5G internet connection without the relying on the big mobile phone carriers for service to their home.
Faster, more secure public hotspots.
Wi-Fi was the public hotspot precursor, built out around restaurants, coffee shops, malls, schools, and libraries. While many consumers now have mobile phone plans that provide phone service nearly everywhere, not having to use up all your data allowance when you’re hanging out in one place puts you back into the less secure world of Wi-Fi networks.
But if those same locations were powered by 5G, outside the carrier network, speed and privacy could attract customers and keep them there longer.
Leveraging crypto and the blockchain.
Governments, banks and big tech are shutting down accounts of people who disagree with them politically. Entire countries are being cut off by sanctions. Consumers and small businesses may be enjoying the conveniences of technology one day and be separated from society the next, as their accounts are frozen, seized, or shut down entirely.
Concerns about independence, security and safety, and the strengths and increased acceptance of crypto and blockchain technology as alternatives, mean more consumers will look to secure and protect themselves across other of risk. Alternative cellular service providers may jump into the mix and attract these consumers to the 5G private network model, leveraging legacy carriers’ spectrum or public alternatives.
While many cities are looking to connect up critical city infrastructure to 5G to take advantage of the speed and security of 5G, independent planned unit developments, particularly targeting retirees, are looking to provide full-service, integrated community benefits. 5G private networks may be the ideal solution for them and their customers.
Where we go from here.
B2B will be the test bed for 5G private network technology. And then tech startups and service providers will continue the push into consumer applications. Will consumer uses ramp up in 2023? Only time will tell…but it is highly likely that the 5G private network landscape will be dramatically different from what it looks like today…and consumers will reap the rewards.
triPica delivers fast, adaptable BSS implementation worldwide for any traditional brand that wants to offer an end-to-end, real-time digital customer experience. As you jump into 5G, consider tiPica’s platform to deliver a premier 5G experience.
Find out more about how triPica can help reinvent your model with our BSS for Telecom.
triPica, a rewarded innovation leader, enables our service providers worldwide in the Telco and the Utility industries to launch their digital strategy with the agility of a startup. Benefiting from our digital and secure SaaS BSS solution - from self-care online subscription to product and customer management - the customers are able to give autonomy and transparency to their users that the market today demands. triPica was established in 2016 and today serves customers globally in the Telecom and the Utility industries.