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Key issues for enterprises looking to deploy private wireless solutions

Explore the Nokia podcast on critical factors such as spectrum, architecture and slicing to drive Industry 4.0 transformation.

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Stephane Daeuble

Head of Marketing for Nokia’s Enterprise Solutions division

In this conversation between James Blackman of Enterprise IoT Insights and Stephane Daeuble, Head of Marketing for Nokia’s Enterprise Solutions Division, Stephane explores the different aspects of private wireless deployments that enterprises must consider.

Key points:

  • Local vs. macro private wireless coverage and why
  • How an autonomous private wireless network differs from a public network slice
  • Types of vendors offering private wireless
  • Access to spectrum and private wireless vendors
  • Network architecture considerations
  • Latest trends in private wireless

Podcast at a glance

How can an industrial site make the right choice of private wireless network?

Several varieties of private wireless networks are available – and there is also a choice of the types of provider that can deliver such a service. Our analysis of the sector has generated insight on the process facing a business or industrial site looking to make a decision on the best way to proceed.

What types of private wireless coverage are available?

Essentially, there are three options available to any commercial organization weighing up the desirability of private wireless:

  1. Local area: Ideal when there is a need for coverage around a particular site such as an airport, retail centre, industrial estate or mining operation.
  2. Wide area: Companies such as tech logistic firms may need connectivity at their headquarters and distribution centers while also requiring coverage on a nationwide level.
  3. Field area: Some firms need connectivity away from their base, but only in locations where they have assets. Examples include rail networks.

Overall, private networks are the best solution for industrial sites. However, there may be instances when it is economical to use a slice of a public network when it comes to wide area connectivity.

Why is private wireless the best choice in local area instances?

There are three reasons why this option is ideally suited for industrial sites:

  1. Familiarity: Such operations are used to effectively owning their local area networks. They are accustomed to having oversight of their connectivity and this allows them to continue doing that.
  2. Performance: Many industrial sites are in non-urban areas, which results in less than optimal coverage. A dedicated local deployment designed to connect key elements of operational technology (OT) is ideal and will deliver the requisite levels of latency and capacity.
  3. Reliability: An essential consideration for OT critical applications. Even with dedicated small cells inside an industrial site, a connection to a public network tends to increase the latency.

What are the various types of supplier of private wireless networks?

With more than 13 million industrial sites potentially requiring private networks, the market place is becoming increasingly crowded. Several different genres of supplier exist:

  1. Telecom vendors: Private wireless is clearly an area of opportunity for such operations. Indeed, Nokia was one of the trend-setters in private wireless when it deployed networks for Rio Tinto at an open mine in Australia in 2015.
  2. Mobile operators and CSPs: They have spectrum, expertise in managing 4G and 5G networks that people use every day, and good existing relationships with the enterprise space.
  3. CSPs from the IT space: Our research shows there’s a high degree of trust from enterprise in eco-system players, especially in areas such as mining and manufacturing where network connectivity is a key component of a complete end-to-end solution.
  4. IT players and system integrators: Firms such as Accenture or DXC can deliver private wireless solutions to customers.
  5. System integrators and consulting firms: They are interested in private wireless as a key enabler for related industries.

Access to spectrum is a key private wireless network consideration

Increasing numbers of countries are releasing spectrum that can be used for this purpose. France was one of the first, as were Germany, the UK and the US.

However, in markets that have not release vertical spectrum yet, organizations may have to work with a partner that can bring spectrum to the table. Mobile operators are an obvious example; Nokia, as part of its private wireless offering, has links with many spectrum owners.

There is also the option of using unlicensed spectrum. WiFi 5G uses a technology called MulteFire that allows the operation of LTE 4.9G and, while there may be a few limitations, users can still derive most of the benefits in security, mobility and capacity.

What types of architecture are available when creating a private wireless network?

There are, effectively, three choices:

  • Autonomous private wireless network: All functions, including the core, management and application, are deployed locally at the site. This is the version Nokia has been deploying since 2015.
  • Private wireless as a service (pWaaS): Nokia was the first to offer this option, in which all parts of the core networks and the application are deployed locally but the management elements sit in the cloud or your own data center.
  • Core slicing: You have the minimum core elements and applications that you need locally, but the rest are run by a service provider in its own servers and cloud. This is the most economical option.

The choice of architecture depends strictly on the enterprise in question – there are no definitively good or bad options.

How will these three options develop as the private wireless market matures?

Demand is increasing for pWaaS, particularly for industrial sites. This meets all the requirements without some of the complexity that an autonomous system can entail. It is a solution with a lower entry cost and easier access, which is easier to scale over time.

However, while pWaaS is likely to grow in size and demand among industrial sites, autonomous private wireless networks will remain the favorite option, especially among organizations with larger networks.

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