ACMA publishes market study on 4G/5G private networks

Wednesday, 18 October, 2023

ACMA publishes market study on 4G/5G private networks

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a report that examines the existing and future market for private wireless networks, with a focus on Australia. These private wireless networks are deployed by companies and organisations for their private spectrum use and are either 4G long-term evolution or 5G networks. The report examines the likely impact on spectrum demand and implications for the ACMA.

The ACMA’s five-year spectrum outlook (FYSO) 2022–27 for 2022–23 identifies private wireless networks as a driver for spectrum supporting 5G connectivity. The FYSO anticipates that private wireless networks will continue to increase in number, and that most new networks will use 5G technology. Industry analysts suggest that 5G private networks will be a game changer for Industry 4.0, enabling connectivity, advanced analytics, automation and advanced manufacturing technology.

Estimates vary for the number of private wireless networks around the world, with deployment most common in the manufacturing and logistics sectors. ACMA research found there are over 50 private wireless networks already in operation in Australia, with more in planning stages. These networks are mainly in the mining and resources sector.

The Australian rail sector is also deploying private wireless networks using spectrum licences. The agricultural sector is investigating its own opportunities to deploy private wireless networks, and the entertainment and advanced manufacturing sectors have shown interest in the technology. Overall, the domestic market for private wireless networks is expected to grow to be worth nearly $700 million by 2027.

According to the ACMA, key factors in deploying private wireless networks are:

  • having a sound business case for digitising operations;
  • assessing the cost and complexity of deploying a network at particular locations;
  • securing spectrum at desired frequencies in particular locations; and
  • having access to a range of industrial-grade wireless equipment at suitable frequencies.

With private wireless networks presenting new challenges and opportunities for enterprises, the ACMA says it will continue to monitor developments, including any effects on the demand for spectrum. To view the report in full, visit the ACMA website.

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