Questions and considerations to address before implementing a private cellular network
Industries across the globe are facing an increased need to rapidly deploy ultra-secure, high-performing networks, but the playbook for private enterprise 5G can vary from business to business, location to location, and budget to budget.
Private cellular networks were designed to scale with the connectivity demands of today’s enterprise business models. Deploying a private 5G or LTE network may seem complicated at first glance, but with the proper planning and partnerships, private network deployment hardships are a thing of the past.
Eager to get started? Here are the key strategic and technical questions to consider when implementing a private network solution.
Building the foundation for private 5G
Before wading through a slew of technical information on how to build a private 5G network, it’s important to carefully analyze three foundational considerations.
#1: What is the problem you’re trying to solve for?
Not every network is destined to be private. In fact, some businesses may thrive on a public vs. private network solution, particularly if they operate in a location with excellent LTE or 5G coverage and have little-to-no risk of overages or need to protect sensitive information. Others, however, may find that a private cellular network is the best solution to provide high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity in obscure locations, maintain control over data usage, and lock down business-critical data.
#2: How will a private cellular network impact the organization holistically?
Although you may have a single compelling use case in mind, the cost of private 5G and size of your return on investment are more attractive if you can expand to multiple Private 5G use cases. For example, a private cellular network established at a warehouse in a remote location may initially serve as the connectivity solution for wireless inventory scanners, but also be used down the road to power artificial intelligence technology in safety surveillance or telemetry for autonomous equipment.
#3: How will success be measured?
Establishing a proper set of key performance indicators (KPIs) is key to justifying future investments in private enterprise 5G or LTE. KPIs may include processing and production speeds, network uptime, reductions in man hours, improved data expenditures, etc.
Technical questions to consider when selecting a private cellular solution
A private cellular network is a tailor-made network solution. Here are the questions to address when selecting the equipment, data plans, and partners needed to implement a private 5G or LTE network.
Are any areas of your business difficult to reach with Wi-Fi alone?
In some cases, Wi-Fi is susceptible to network interference, making LTE or 5G attractive complements or replacements. A typical indoor cellular access point can cover 3-5 times more area, while an outdoor cellular access point can over up to 10 times more area compared to a Wi-Fi access point.
Does the density of your network traffic create bandwidth issues?
If your network is notoriously bogged down by a high number of users, devices, or high-bandwidth applications, a private 5G or LTE network will provide more coverage and capacity, particularly because a private cellular network is not subject to traffic spikes or slowed speeds in the way a public cellular network is.
Take distance education, for example. Private cellular network deployments made by school administrators are usually district-, city-, or county-wide, meaning there are potentially thousands of devices using video to communicate for hours on end. On a public cellular network, this solution would amass high data fees and may experience throttling. Alternatively, private cellular allows more traffic to pass through the network, and the Quality of Service (QoS) is controlled by the district’s network administrator instead of the carrier.
Is your data sufficiently protected on your network?
If your organization has strict security policies or critical data requirements that can’t be met by a public network, a private network — complemented by the inherent security of a 5G network — is the perfect solution. Because private networks are built on shared license spectrums, the networks are more difficult to access for outsiders. Additionally, the SIM-based authentication of a private 5G network provides advanced security through encryption and authentication protocols.
The ability to not only protect data but also monitor the traffic (such as that from a SCADA system) in real-time using a cloud-based management system can prevent the loss of assets and information.
Does your IT staff have experience deploying a private cellular network?
Legacy cellular and 3GPP terminology can look like nothing more than alphabet soup to an IT team that lacks expertise, training, and support. That’s why it’s vital to work with a private network vendor that is not only accessible and responsive, but also has the resources available to train your team and help the organization make the best decisions for the future of their network.