Private LTE and 5G deployments expected to boom
Annual global investments in private LTE and 5G network infrastructure — which includes radio access network (RAN), mobile core and transport network equipment — will reach $8 billion by the end of 2023, according to research from SNS Telecom & IT.
With the standardisation of features such as MCX (mission-critical PTT, video and data) services and ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLCC) by the 3GPP, LTE and 5G New Radio (NR) networks are rapidly gaining recognition as an all-inclusive critical communications platform for the delivery of both mission- and business-critical applications.
By providing authority over wireless coverage and capacity, private LTE and 5G networks ensure guaranteed and secure connectivity, while supporting a wide range of applications — ranging from PTT group communications and real-time video delivery to wireless control and automation in industrial environments.
Organisations across the critical communications and industrial IoT domains — including public safety agencies, militaries, utilities, oil and gas companies, mining groups, railway and port operators, manufacturers and industrial giants — are making sizeable investments in private LTE networks.
The very first private 5G networks are also beginning to be deployed to serve a diverse array of usage scenarios spanning from connected factory robotics and massive-scale sensor networking to the control of automated guided vehicles (AVG) and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
For example, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Cars division is establishing a local 5G network to support automobile production processes at its Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, Germany, while the Korea Military Academy is installing a dedicated 5G network in its northern Seoul campus to facilitate mixed reality-based military training programs.
In addition, with the emergence of neutral-host small cells, multi-operator connectivity and unlicensed/shared spectrum access schemes, the use of private LTE and 5G networks in enterprise buildings, campuses and public venues is expected to grow significantly over the coming years.
The practicality of spectrum sharing schemes such as the three-tiered Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) framework and Japan’s unlicensed Shared Extended Global Platform (sXGP) has already been proven with initial rollouts in locations such as corporate campuses, golf courses, race tracks, stadiums, airports and warehouses.
A number of independent neutral-host and wholesale operators are also stepping up with pioneering business models to provide LTE and 5G connectivity services for both mobile operators and enterprises, particularly in indoor settings and locations where it is technically or economically not feasible for traditional operators to deliver substantial wireless coverage and capacity.
Expected to reach US$4.7 billion in annual spending by the end of 2020, private LTE and 5G networks are increasingly becoming the preferred approach to deliver wireless connectivity for critical communications, industrial IoT, enterprise and campus environments, and public venues.
The market will further grow at a CAGR of 19% between 2020 and 2023, eventually accounting for nearly US$8 billion by the end of 2023.
SNS Telecom & IT estimates that as much as 30% of these investments — approximately $2.5 billion — will be directed towards the build-out of private 5G networks, which will become the preferred wireless connectivity medium to support the ongoing Industry 4.0 revolution for the automation and digitisation of factories, warehouses, ports and other industrial premises, in addition to serving other verticals.
Other key findings of the report include:
Favourable spectrum licensing regimes — such as the German Government’s decision to reserve frequencies in the 3.7–3.8 GHz range for localised 5G networks — will be central to the successful adoption of private 5G networks.
A number of other countries — including Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia — are also moving forward with their plans to identify and allocate spectrum for localised, private 5G networks with a primary focus on the 3.7, 26 and 28 GHz frequency bands.
The private LTE network submarket is well established, with operational deployments across multiple segments of the critical communications and industrial IoT industry, as well as enterprise buildings, campuses and public venues. China alone has hundreds of small- to medium-scale private LTE networks, extending from single-site systems through to city-wide networks — predominantly to support police forces, local authorities, power utilities, railways, metro systems, airports and maritime ports.
Private LTE networks are expected to continue their upward trajectory beyond 2020, with a spate of ongoing and planned network rollouts, from nationwide public safety broadband networks to usage scenarios as diverse as putting LTE-based communications infrastructure on the Moon.
In addition to the high-profile FirstNet, South Korea’s Safe-Net and Britain’s ESN nationwide public safety LTE network projects, a number of other national-level engagements are also underway — most notably the Royal Thai Police’s LTE network (which is already operational in the greater Bangkok region), Finland’s VIRVE 2.0 mission-critical mobile broadband service, France’s PCSTORM critical communications broadband project and Russia’s planned secure 450 MHz LTE network for police forces, emergency services and the national guard.
Other segments within the critical communications industry have also seen growth in the adoption of private LTE networks. Recent investments have focused on mining, port and factory automation, deployable broadband systems for military communications, mission-critical voice, broadband and train control applications for railways and metro systems, ATG (air-to-ground) and airport surface wireless connectivity for aviation, field area networks for utilities, and maritime LTE platforms for vessels and offshore energy assets.
In the coming months and years, SNS Telecom & IT expects to see significant activity in the 1.9 GHz sXGP, 3.5 GHz CBRS, 5 GHz and other unlicensed/shared spectrum bands to support the operation of private LTE and 5G networks across a range of environments, particularly enterprise buildings, campuses, public venues, factories and warehouses.
Leveraging their extensive spectrum assets and mobile networking expertise combined with a growing focus on vertical industries, mobile operators are continuing to retain a strong foothold in the wider private LTE and 5G network ecosystem — with active involvement in projects ranging from large-scale nationwide public safety LTE networks to highly localised 5G networks for industrial environments.
A number of independent neutral-host and wholesale operators are also stepping up with pioneering business models to provide LTE and 5G connectivity services to both mobile operators and enterprises. For example, using strategically acquired 2.6 GHz and 3.6 GHz spectrum licences, Airspan’s operating company Dense Air plans to provide wholesale wireless connectivity in Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia.
Cross-industry partnerships are becoming more commonplace as LTE/5G network equipment suppliers wrestle to gain ground in key vertical domains. For example, Nokia has partnered with Komatsu, Sandvik, Konecranes and Kalmar to develop tailored private LTE and 5G network solutions for the mining and transportation industries.
The full findings of the research can be found in the report at http://www.snstelecom.com/private-lte.
Originally published here.
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