New research commissioned by LTE and 5G network solutions provider Quortus indicates that enterprise IT decision makers are becoming increasingly interested in private networks as an answer to productivity and efficiency woes caused by poor connectivity. Almost two-thirds (63%) of US and European enterprises have suffered reduced productivity and efficiency due to weak and unreliable public network connectivity.
Private cellular networks are 3GPP-based cellular networks offering a combination of low-power wide-area (LPWA), broadband LTE and even “massive” scale, ultra-reliable 5G connectivity for exclusive use by private parties. Deployed and managed separately of public cellular networks, they offer improved security, reliability and control.
The research, which surveyed 260 IT decision makers from the U.S., U.K., Germany and France, found that nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents said that weak and unreliable connectivity results in reduced productivity and efficiency at their enterprise. Further, a staggering 91% of them believe such limitations are directly tied to the limitations of macro public networks.
The research concluded that a fifth of enterprises do not believe the quality of their existing connectivity will support their future digital ambitions. Many enterprise IT leaders are looking for alternative options. 97% of them are ready to invest more money to ensure better connectivity.
The survey findings, published in an exclusive report ‘Build, don’t buy: the road to private networks‘ highlight the perceived inadequacies of public fixed and mobile networks:
- 91% of enterprise respondents believe the limitations of their existing connectivity is squarely tied to the limitations of macro public networks
- The major limitations of public networks frustrating enterprises include weak security, restricted network speeds and limited available network capacity limiting innovation
- 97% of organizations are ready to invest more money to ensure better connectivity, and almost half (47%) would increase current budgets by 10% if it reduced existing fears and limitations and helped drive operational efficiency
- A fifth of enterprises do not believe the quality of their existing connectivity will support the achievement of their future digital ambitions
“Enterprises, until recently, have had to rely on public macro networks for broadband connectivity,” said Neil Dunham, VP of sales at Quortus. “Our study reveals significant levels of frustration with the inherent limitations of macro networks. Too often global enterprises are finding that the quality of connectivity they receive is decided by an enterprise’s location, relative to network sites and the number of users relying on them.”
Dunham continues: “This burgeoning excitement towards private networks is seeing enterprises consider their options when it comes to build, design, and deployment. The key areas of motivation amongst enterprise IT decision makers include a willingness to benefit from specialist vertical knowledge and expertise, not being limited by a public operator’s footprint or service capability and need for bespoke requirements now and in the future. Only private networks can offer a truly bespoke connectivity solution to guarantee appropriate levels of performance, reliability, security and control for all global enterprises.”
Quortus also explored how those enterprises already working on establishing private networks at their facilities are doing so or intend to do, finding that 23% of enterprises surveyed currently operate their own network, while third (33%) would prefer to build their own network with the help of specialist partners, rather than buy it directly from a public operator.
Some of the major findings include a mission to build and not buy
The Quortus study revealed that many global enterprises are taking the safeguarding of high-quality connectivity into their own hands by building and operating private cellular networks.
- Almost a quarter (23%) of enterprises surveyed currently operate their own network
- A third (33%) would prefer to build their own network with the help of specialist partners, rather than buy it directly from a public operator
- The top perceived enterprise benefits of private networks include greater security, increased performance and tighter network control.
Reports from industry organization Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) supports Quortus’ research. The GSA in August said it is tracking at least 370 companies around the world that have been or are investing in private mobile networks, with 5G deployments beginning to gain momentum. The data suggests that manufacturing is an early adopter of local area private mobile networks, with 79 identified companies holding suitable licenses or involved in known pilots or deployments of LANs or probable LANs. Mining follows second, with ports also actively trialing/deploying local area private mobile networks.
“Our study reveals significant levels of frustration with the inherent limitations of macro networks. Too often global enterprises are finding that the quality of connectivity they receive is decided by an enterprise’s location, relative to network sites, and the number of users relying on them.”
“As this study shows, strong and reliable connectivity is a significant enabler to greater operational efficiency, enhanced service innovation and better productivity. It is therefore no surprise that enterprises are evaluating their future needs so closely and evaluating alternative means of supply.”
Quortus is a pioneering UK company that is changing the mobile communications world using the best IT principles to create innovative mobile communication software that is easy to deploy, manage and scale. The company has created a software defined core network technology platform and a suite of products that covers 3GPP 4G, 3G and GSM standards, in addition to taking the lead with emerging technologies such as 5G, Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), Private LTE and cellular core network virtualization.
Ananki plans to deliver software defined private 5G that is purpose built for the Industry 4.0 revolution, encompasng M2M mobile networks, IoT, and related communication initiatives.
- Private 5G is the key to empowering the machine-to-application communications necessary to complete this vision, according to the ONF.
- Industry 4.0 is a combination of intelligent devices, edge cloud and cloud-based AI/ML which is intended to enable software-based optimization and innovation.
Ananki’s Software-Defined Private 5G+ was said to deliver:
● Optimized 5G+ Experience – Software-defined, automated, AI powered, application optimized connectivity, with enhanced security enabled by a programmable data plane.
● Cloud First – pre-integrated with hyperscaler cloud and edge, delivering private 5G as a SaaS service, creating a continuously improving experience running on any multi-cloud platform.
● Industry 4.0 Ready – Empowering developers to build transformative IoT, IIoT and OT solutions with rich APIs.
Ananki’s technological foundation leverages ONF’s open source Aether™, SD-RAN™, SD-Fabric™ and SD-Core™ projects, and melds them together into a commercial offering that is delivered as a SaaS, making private 5G as easy to consume as wifi for enterprises. ONF also incorporates developer APIs to accelerate the creation of more powerful digital transformation solutions. This open platform is hardened and optimized for industrial applications, and introduces developer APIs to empower the creation of more powerful digital transformation solutions.
— Ananki delivers slice/device level SLA assurance for mission critical applications.
— Proactively identify network bottlenecks before they impact your application performance.
— Define application priority once and let Ananki (Self healing/optimizing/organizing network) deliver optimal application performance.
— CI/CD lets you dynamically upgrade your service to handle evolving application requirements and security threats.
— Telco grade security and resilience to Enterprise operational networks with AI/Ops fault and detection.
When ONF’s Aether was selected for the $30M Pronto Project, DARPA encouraged ONF to commercialize the platform in order to advance the impact of the project’s secure 5G research. To date, ONF has operationalized and deployed Aether at 15 locations operating as a cloud managed service.
To accelerate Aether’s adoption, the ONF board voted unanimously to create a new separate venture backed commercial entity to provide an enhanced, hardened solution so vendors and partners can easily incorporate private 5G into the solutions they then build and deliver to enterprises.
Ananki, has been structured as a Public Benefit Corporation to support and promote open source. Furthermore, Ananki shares common executives with the ONF, ensuring that a consistent vision and mission keeps the two entities well aligned.
Andre Fuetsch, ONF Board Chair and AT&T CTO:
“ONF continues to innovate in ways that magnify the power of open systems and open source across our industry. The ONF board recognizes that the lack of support for open source initiatives from commercial companies remains an inhibiting factor for scaled adoption. To meet this challenge, we have agreed to spin out Ananki as an independent company to pursue commercialization of Aether with a view that this will help accelerate the adoption and impact of open source.”
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director ONF and CEO of Ananki:
“Ananki is broadening the impact of the ONF’s work, and will help ONF’s Aether become much more broadly adopted. By providing a commercially supported option for consuming Aether, many more organizations will be able to easily and economically leverage the benefits of Private 5G for building Industry 4.0 solutions. And in turn, Ananki is committed to contributing back to the ONF open source, helping to advance the Aether platform and broaden the ONF community.”
Ananki delivers a commercially supported Software-Defined Private 5G as-a-service to help facilitate enterprise digital transformation. As a Public Benefit Corporation, Ananki synergistically builds on Open Networking Foundation (ONF) open source software platforms, and in turn contributes focus, funding, developers and contributions to the ONF projects. With Ananki, companies can now choose a commercially supported option when consuming ONF open source.
About the Open Networking Foundation:
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator-led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group and Türk Telekom, the ONF is driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information visit http://www.opennetworking.org
Russian metallurgy company Norilsk Nickel is considering applying for a license to use 5G frequencies, reports Comnews.ru citing CEO Alexander Kudinov’s remarks during the GSMA Mobile 360 Eurasia conference in Russia last week. The company plans to deploy a private 5G network on its own, without cooperating with any telecommunications network operator.
Norilsk Nickel is interested in working with equipment vendors directly. The idea of deploying a private 5G network independently is based on security rather than economic issues.
“At Norilsk Nickel, work directly with the vendor is being worked out very actively. We are considering this model not for economic reasons, but from the point of view of IT security. But such a model of cooperation cannot exist at the moment. There are many incomprehensible points in the law that the government still has. In my opinion, operators have more experience. But Norilsk Nickel is interested in working directly with vendors, “emphasizes Alexander Kudinov.
Dmitry Lakontsev, head of the Skoltech-based NTI Competence Center for wireless communication or the Internet of Things, emphasizes that there is no threat to the operators’ business. Vice versa. The more companies build 5G networks, the higher the demand for equipment will be. And this, in turn, will lead to the growth of the entire industry through additional investment. “It is also worth recalling that it is the industry that gets the maximum effect from the introduction of 5G. Therefore, the creation of private mobile 5G / LTE networks by the enterprises themselves is quite logical,” he says.
According to Dmitry Lakontsev, most companies note such advantages of private networks as full control over data that does not leave the enterprise network perimeter, exact correspondence of the network to use scenarios and the radio environment of the enterprise, and quick setup, reconfiguration and expansion when needs change. In addition, private networks have such advantages as the further development of their own distributed computing resources, at the right point, at the right time, with the necessary characteristics and guaranteed reliability. Also, a private mobile network is a strategic asset of the enterprise and an essential competence.
The disadvantages of private networks are the need to create new competencies for the deployment, optimization and operation of mobile networks, the cost of building a new network and wireless infrastructure, as well as, emphasizes Dmitry Lakontsev, its maintenance and updating. Due to the lack of economies of scale, the purchase of equipment and services takes place on less favorable terms than for mobile operators and owners of a tower business (infrastructure operator). Also the disadvantage is the need to meet the requirements of regulators, which for private 5G networks are still vague and lagging behind technological progress.
At the same time, Dmitry Lakontsev notes, obtaining a license, as a rule, is one of the smallest lines in expenses. To create your own communications infrastructure, you need serious money and relevant competencies. Not all companies can afford it, so this story is unlikely to be massive. However, the demand for private networks is and is only growing, mainly from the largest enterprises. Globally, we are talking about thousands of installations, and on a Russian scale, about dozens, which is quite a lot.
Semyon Zakharov, Director of Project Implementation for Corporate Business of MegaFon PJSC, emphasizes that the operator sees a great interest in private LTE and 5G networks from the corporate market.
The participation of the telecom operator in the construction of private LTE / 5G will allow corporate clients to avoid mistakes when planning a network, taking into account the peculiarities of the territory in which the enterprise is located and the tasks that it faces. “For the same reason, it is more profitable for companies to transfer the operation of networks to operators. If an enterprise builds a network on its own, it must not only obtain frequencies, but also legalize the network itself, carry out radio control and other necessary processes. As a result, the network becomes a non-core asset, which requires significant financial and human resources. Over time, the majority of enterprises give up such non-core activities,” said Semyon Zakharov.
Verizon announced the availability of an on-premises, private edge compute service with Microsoft Azure, building on their collaboration formed last year. Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure Stack Edge is a cloud computing platform that brings compute and storage services to the edge of the network at the customer premises. This should provide enterprises with increased efficiencies, higher levels of security, and the low lag and high bandwidth needed for applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning, Verizon said. Here are the highlights:
- Through its relationship with Microsoft, Verizon is now offering businesses an on-premises, private edge compute solution that enables the ultra-low latency needed to deploy real-time enterprise applications.
- Solution leverages Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure Stack Edge to bring compute and storage services to the edge of the network at the customer premises, providing increased efficiencies, higher levels of security, and the low lag and high bandwidth needed for applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning.
- Ice Mobility has used Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure to help with computer vision-assisted product packing to improve on-site quality assurance. The company is now exploring additional 5G Edge applications that provide tangible, material automation enhancements to its business, such as near real-time activity-based costing.
Some of the applications possible with the on-site 5G and edge computing include in-shop information processing in near real time to help retailers manage inventory, or factory data processing and analytics to minimize downtime and gain visibility across manufacturing processes.
Logistics company Ice Mobility has used Verizon 5G Edge with Azure Stack Edge to help with computer vision-assisted product packing to improve on-site quality assurance. The company is exploring additional 5G applications that leverage initial computer vision and 5G edge investments to provide automation enhancements, such as near real-time activity-based costing. This would allow the company to assign overhead and indirect costs to specific customer accounts, pick and pack lines, and warehouse activities to enhance efficiencies and improve competitiveness.
“This announcement aligns with IDC’s view that an on-premises, private 5G edge compute deployment model will spur the growth of compelling 4th generation industrial use cases,” said Ghassan Abdo, Research VP at IDC. “This partnership is a positive development as it leverages the technology and communications leadership of both companies.”
“Our partnership with Microsoft brings 5G Edge to enterprises, dropping latency at the edge, helping critical, performance-impacting applications respond more quickly and efficiently,” said Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Chief Revenue Officer of Verizon Business. “5G is ushering in next-generation business applications, from core connectivity to real-time edge compute and new applications and solutions that take advantage of AI transforming nearly every industry.”
“Business innovation demands powerful technology solutions and central to this is the intersection between the network and edge” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president Azure for Operators at Microsoft. “Through our partnership with Verizon, we are providing customers with powerful compute and storage service capabilities at the edge of customers’ networks, enabling robust application experiences with increased security.”
Verizon offers a similar service with Amazon Web Services (AWS which provides private multi-access edge computing (Private MEC) for enterprises. Private MEC integrates edge computing infrastructure with private networks deployed on or near the customer’s premises.
NTT today announced the launch of its Private 5G platform (P5G), the first globally available private LTE/5G Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform. The Japanese company states that NTT P5G will enable Chief Information Officers and Chief Digital Officers leverage the benefits of private 5G (?) to solve business problems and innovate to keep pace with the future of enterprise.
NTT says that their Private 5G platform provides a suite of services built to help Chief Information Officers and Chief Digital Officers drive business outcomes and unlock innovative business models that drive the future of enterprise across industries.
- NTT Private 5G platform offers a single end-to-end management and service creation platform with global visibility, eliminating friction and increasing ROI.
- NTT Private 5G is purpose-built to solve enterprise business challenges with a platform that goes beyond connectivity, providing security, device and edge management, application development, big data analytics and deep back-office integration.
- Wireless industry leader Shahid Ahmed joins NTT as EVP of New Ventures and Innovation to pioneer the Private 5G service portfolio and accelerate ecosystem collaboration.
Running on a cloud-native architecture, the platform can be delivered via cloud, on-premises, or at the edge. The platform is pre-integrated with leading network and software partners (unnamed), allowing enterprises to secure, scale and segment their network flexibly. With patent-pending MicroSlicing™ technology (?), NTT P5G allows mission-critical apps to leverage the advantages of private 5G.
Fueling enterprise digital transformation with cloud-based economics and automation is at the heart of NTT’s vision for private 5G. NTT is focused on driving the global acceleration of private 5G to meet the fast-evolving needs of enterprises across industries, including automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail to create unprecedented alignment of data, connectivity, security, and communications. NTT is the only provider that offers a best-in-class global network, deep vertical expertise, and a full suite of application development and management capabilities.
“As a key partner in our digital transformation journey, NTT has an impressive track record of building and supporting new technologies that help CXOs solve critical business challenges,” said Javier Polit, Chief Information & Global Digital Services Officer of Mondelēz International. “NTT’s unique approach to Private 5G offerings provides the kind of agility and insight that we will need to further accelerate our business.”
NTT appointed wireless industry leader Shahid Ahmed as EVP of New Ventures and Innovation to pioneer the Private 5G service portfolio, drive digital transformation outcomes for clients, and deepen ecosystem collaboration.
Shahid Ahmed, NTT EVP of New Ventures and Innovation
Shahid brings over 25 years of technology experience focused on business transformation, including key leadership roles at Accenture, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and Sprint. In addition, he is an appointed advisor to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
“Global enterprises are looking for a single private 5G solution to deploy across multiple countries. They need one truly private network, one point of accountability, one management platform, and one solution partner that eliminates all the major friction points across the entire global footprint of the enterprise,” said Shahid Ahmed, NTT Ltd. EVP New Ventures and Innovation. “Our NTT P5G offering supports many of the CXO requirements today, and we will continue to invest in P5G as enterprise adoption evolves.”
“The private 5G technology has the potential to fundamentally change the way enterprises drive digital transformation,” said Ghassan Abdo, Research Vice President at IDC. “NTT has a strong track record of focusing on breadth of service, and NTT P5G capabilities extend far beyond basic connectivity to offer a comprehensive suite of services geared toward important business outcomes.”
“As data and mobility become more critical to business operations, 5G will enable enterprises to reinvent business operations. With faster speeds and more data, 5G will facilitate advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and IoT,” said Eric Clark, NTT Data Services North America Chief Digital and Strategy Officer. “How a company collects, stores, and uses that data in real-time will be critical to success, and NTT is well positioned to guide our clients on this journey.”
NTT group companies are jointly accelerating the adoption of open and virtualized 5G solutions globally in collaboration with ecosystem stakeholder. The company says this comprehensive approach enables NTT to provide a full suite of digital transformation services (undefined).
Names of partner companies were not disclosed. The only reference was that NTT P5G was “pre-integrated with leading network and software partners.”
Mondelēz International, with a presence in over 150 countries, is a customer (see above quote), but it was unclear whether they were an active user of NTT P5G and, if so, in which countries.
No other customers were announced or quoted, although the Cologne Bonn Airport said in May that they had “partnered with NTT to develop a wholly private 5G mobile network across its 1,000 hectares premises. Under this joint research and cooperation project, the duo will work on technological innovations, including border control and intelligent luggage checking. The aim of the collaboration is to enhance the operational efficiency of the airport.
Finally, NTT’s “patent-pending MicroSlicing technology,” was not defined other than it “allows mission-critical apps to leverage the advantages of private 5G.”
In conclusion, NTT needs to produce case studies which demonstrate the benefits that P5G brings to enterprise customers, such as Bonn-Cologne airport and Mondelēz International. Also, more details on the functionality are urgently needed.
Germany’s telecommunications regulator Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency or BNetzA) announced earlier this week that it has awarded 74 licences to applicants for deploying private 5G networks (called “campus or local networks” in Germany, or “lokale Netze”) using 3.7GHz-to-3.8GHz spectrum. This more than doubled the 33 licences it had awarded as was announced in April.
According to the BNetzA press release, the regulator expected the frequencies to be primarily used for Industry 4.0, “but also in the agricultural and forestry sector,” Jochen Homann, President of BNetzA, said in the press release, “by awarding spectrum for local 5G networks, we are creating scope for innovation for enterprises. There has been a great amount of interest in the spectrum, and we are anticipating a large number of applications still to come,” he added.
- Private LTE and 5G networks can ensure guaranteed connectivity and privacy (e.g. safeguarding data), while supporting a wide range of applications and usage scenarios. Small-scale private LTE and 5G-ready networks are also beginning to be deployed in industrial IoT (Internet of Things) settings – where LTE and 5G can fulfill the stringent reliability, availability and low latency requirements for connectivity in industrial control and automation systems, besides supporting mobility for robotics and machines.
- The Bundesnetzagentur is an authority under the responsibility of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Its core tasks include supervising the energy, telecommunications, postal and railway markets. As part of its mandate, the Bundesnetzagentur ensures that as many undertakings as possible can use the infrastructure in these sectors so that consumers benefit from competition and favourable prices. The authority employs over 2,900 people at its headquarters in Bonn and Mainz and its 46 regional offices.
In a separate document, BNetzA published a list of the names and addresses of 35 licensees. Presumably the other recipients have not granted the agency the permission to make their names public. There are system integrators (NTT DATA Deutschland GmbH), specialised engineering companies closer to core telecoms technologies (Rohde & Schwarz, Corning Services), car makers (Audi, Mercedes), broadcasters (Bayerischer Rundfunk), event company (Deutsche Messe AG which operates the Hannover trade fairs), etc.
Huawei – Germany, based in Düsseldorf, is also a recipient. It isn’t clear what the Chinese telecom network equipment maker will use the frequency for, but likely for 5G related R&D work.
There are a number of other companies that have publicly stated that they have bought spectrum for private 5G networks, but for whatever reasons their names did not appear on the BNetzA list. According to an earlier report by The Wall Street Journal, that group included car makers BMW and Volkswagen, the industrial conglomerate Robert Bosch GmbH, the chemistry company BASF, and the German airline Lufthansa.
Meanwhile BNetzA has just concluded the consultation process, started in July, on how best to make the 26GHz, specifically the 24.25 – 27.5 GHz, also available for “local 5G networks”. When this band is open to applications, BNetzA expects to see more active participation thanks to the high bandwidth this frequency can enable, especially from sectors like infrastructure development, Industry 4.0, and IoT.
On the other hand, when enterprises and public sector entities are actively building their own private 5G networks in countries where it’s permitted, one might question the 5G operators’ ambition to support business use cases with their public 5G networks, including the much hyped end-to-end network slicing capabilities which will only be achieved by a 5G SA core network.
Some network operators are building 5G private networks. Vodafone Deutschland for example has been working with Lufthansa Technik to build the 5G network at an aircraft hangar at Hamburg Airport. In most cases, mobile operators are entirely bypassed. Nokia said publicly that no operator was involved in its private 5G project for Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national railway service.
By opening 5G frequencies to private bidders, BNetzA and its peers in countries like Japan and the UK are helping popularize 5G in the business world and expediate enterprises’ embrace of the new technology. However, the telecom operators that have made big 5G investment may not be the biggest or primary beneficiaries. This means those 5G network operators need to ask themselves some hard questions on how to strengthen their value propositions to their business customers, especially when the transition to 5G standalone mode is just now beginning.
The next five to seven years will see an explosion of 5G private networks catering to different industry verticals like automotive, ports, mines, manufacturing and a plethora of mission-critical services. Ultra-high reliability, ultra-low latency, 99.999 percent availability, and very high security are some of the characteristics 5G private networks will be capable of.
What are private networks and why are they so important for Industry 4.0?
Private 4G networks have been around for years, but they’re still few and far between. However, with 5G’s sub-millisecond latency, ultra-high throughput, the business case for the proliferation of private 5G networks is expected to be more widespread. 3GPP calls them non-public networks or NPN, and are intended for the sole use of a private entity, be it a big enterprise or government. Use cases for such private networks are:
- Mission-critical functions like public safety and national security, emergency response and government systems
- Digitalization of industries like oil rigs, mining, retail, and so on
- Enabling an Industry 4.0 ecosystem. For example, smart manufacturing, warehouses, and autonomous fleet management
- Critical infrastructure like ports, airports, healthcare, and railways