Explore what’s to come in private networking in this Q&A with the worldwide head of private wireless BD at Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Imagine a world where every enterprise has its own dedicated lane on the digital highway, where communication flows seamlessly and securely without the constraints of public networks. With private cellular networks, this has now become a reality, where businesses can utilize a customized private networking solution that provides more control, reliability, and security to connect Wireless LAN applications.
As the demand for secure and reliable wide-area LAN solutions grows, many enterprise businesses across various industries are recognizing the benefits of private networks. This is reflected in the projected growth of the global private cellular market, expected to reach $100 billion by 2030.
With interest in private cellular networks ramping up, we sat down with Chris McKenna, worldwide head of private wireless BD at Amazon Web Services (AWS), a Technology Alliance Partner of Cradlepoint, part of Ericsson, to hear his thoughts on what to expect in 2024.
Why private networking?
Every business is going through a digital transformation — this is especially true in the OT space. Private networks can address many of the limitations OT industries are facing by delivering reliable, low latency connectivity to devices and mission-critical communications. It helps industries to automate tasks, enable communications between different types of machinery and enhance efficiencies and productivity. It is why private networks have now become a key enabler of Industry 4.0. I recently spoke with a customer whose primary focus was factory automation and reducing defects on the factory line. They wanted to take advantage of new technologies — robotic arms on assembly lines and automated guided vehicles. However, they found they were restrained by their current network.
Why private networks on AWS?
Private networking is a natural evolution for AWS. Customers come to us because of our innovation and industry-leading cloud functionality. When you consider the three barriers of entry for organizations deploying private LTE and 5G solutions — cost, complexity, and time to market — AWS can address all three. We offer different private network solutions depending on the use case and requirements and offer different GTM channels (direct to enterprise or managed service). These include Integrated Private Wireless on AWS program and AWS Private 5G offerings.
Can you speak to the private 5G ecosystem?
There are many building blocks to a private networking solution: devices, network, cloud, and edge. It requires compute, cloud services, and artificial intelligence/ machine learning; it requires the ability to pull data and telemetry from devices and derive actionable insights, often in real time. There are more than 10 different entities in a private 5G solution, and ensuring they work seamlessly together is critical. The role of the ecosystem cannot be understated.
What makes you excited about the AWS and Ericsson Private Network Solutions partnership?
It brings the best of breeds together: Ericsson private network connectivity and AWS cloud. Ericsson provides the broadest portfolio of private network solutions, which combined with AWS’s broadest set of cloud services and deepest set of features within those services, delivers a complete solution. This is particularly important for carriers, who will be a primary route to market for private 5G. The telecoms market is known to be risk-averse, especially when it comes to new technology. They will move on to vendors they trust — vendors such as AWS and Ericsson.
What role will communication service providers (CSPs) and global systems integrators (GSIs) play?
CSPs and GSIs will play a key role. There will be a system integration role to play in all private 5G engagements. CSPs and GSIs can help in every stage — the design, deployment, management, and support of private 5G, and will be critical in accelerating adoption. Also, CSPs will have the benefit of being able to deliver enhanced quality of service (since they own their own spectrum) and can remove the boundaries between public and private networks, offering seamless handoff between networks.
What are the challenges you see with private networks?
Private networks are not scaled down public networks. It is important for vendors, CSPs, and GSIs to keep in mind that the customer is any enterprise in any industry vertical. They are not used to the complexity that comes with cellular networks and want simple networking solutions with a Wi-Fi-like experience. We need to remove the barriers to entry and make it easy. And this is why solutions offered as a consumption model, like those built with our Integrated Private Wireless on AWS program, are appealing.
Any guidance for organizations considering private 4G/5G in 2024?
Private networks will be a learning curve. There will be use cases for now and use cases for later. Near-term the focus will be less on the cutting-edge use cases and more on those that bring real business value. For example, we’re working with a city council on a private 5G solution that can reduce the number of “notspots” in their network. The problem? Customers can’t pay for their parking due to spotty network coverage. With a private network, customers can have access to reliable and secure coverage, ensuring their parking payments go through, and helping them avoid tickets. My guidance to organizations is to really focus on the use cases where private networks can deliver a real solution to a problem.
What can we expect from AWS and Ericsson in 2024?
AWS and Ericsson have several private networking solutions that can address varying customer needs. For example, in the US several customers are considering private networks using CBRS spectrum. There is a perception that private networks must be 5G, but many of the specific use cases we hear customers talk about can be addressed using high-performance, lower-cost, Gigabit-Class LTE. I anticipate that in 2024, we will see more of those types of deployments that, over time, will evolve to 5G when the cost and the device ecosystem are ready at scale.
Any other closing thoughts?
This is an exciting time for AWS and Ericsson as private cellular networking adoptions scale across various industry verticals. Similar to what we witnessed with Wi-Fi, the evolution of private cellular networks will take time. The business benefits are clear, and I encourage everyone to learn more about the technology, its value, and what AWS and Ericsson are doing together.