A private cellular-based 5G or LTE network gives enterprises and agencies the flexibility, control, and security to rely on wireless connectivity
For organizations with a large geographic footprint, setting up a private cellular network can be a cost-effective and secure way to establish a wireless local-area network (LAN). Wi-Fi for LAN doesn’t upscale cost-effectively, and public LTE or 5G may not fit due to availability or data plans. That’s why private 5G and LTE often make sense across places like school districts, distribution centers, smart cities, transportation hubs, and manufacturing sites.
Private 5G and LTE leverage localized micro towers and small cells, or access points, to provide coverage and connectivity, similar to a scaled-down version of a public cellular network. It’s a dedicated network that combines the control and fixed cost of a private network with the flexibility, security, and macro-network benefits of cellular.
Who provides private 5G and LTE networks, and with what spectrum?
There are three basic models for setting up a private cellular network, with the primary difference being how much or little they’re integrated with public cellular networks and cellular service providers.
One model is a private mobile network that uses spectrum that’s already been licensed. Network operators offer licensed spectrum directly to enterprises or third-party providers. They can also operate a private mobile network as a managed service with flat-rate pricing.
Another model is to use unlicensed spectrum.
Lastly, the model that’s perhaps most common is to employ shared spectrum, which is owned but seldom licensed or used. U.S.-based organizations typically utilize the CBRS spectrum (Citizen Broadband Radio Service), and other countries have also set aside spectrum for shared licensing.
What equipment do you need for private cellular?
Organizations looking to deploy a private cellular network will need these primary components:
Sensors, security cameras, machines, and computers — Devices that aggregate to a router or other type of user equipment are on the front line of a private mobile network. Alternatively, devices that accept a private network SIM card can connect directly to an access point.
The user equipment includes 5G and LTE routers, cell phones, and other private cellular network devices that accept user-provided SIMs, and that comply with local and national regulations.
Cellular access points can be deployed indoors or outdoors, and on licensed, shared, or unlicensed spectrum. These access points allow user equipment like a router or a device like a cell phone with a private network SIM to connect to the private cellular network.
The EPC is the “brains'' of the private cellular network and can be located on-premises or in the cloud. EPC operations consist of different components, which work together to help direct, authenticate, and prioritize network traffic.
The backhaul router separates the private cellular network from the outside world, and the firewall only lets in or out what the organization wants.
The access point and SIM manager controls the access points and private SIMs for the deployment.
The Spectrum Access System (SAS) is applicable to CBRS networks and acts as a traffic cop for the aforementioned three types of spectrum models adopted by the FCC. If spectrum isn’t being used by one tier, the SAS securely facilitates access without harmful interference.
Organizations can put together this type of network themselves or through a managed service provider. Either way, when you put private LTE or private 5G vs. Wi-Fi ... a private cellular network is a highly secure and high-performance option for wireless wide-area LAN in large areas.