Mobile Private Networks: Industry 4.0 and Interconnection

At the heart of the Industry 4.0 shift sits the need for digital transformation, automation and interconnection. Connecting machines, devices, and people via the Internet of Things (IoT) in a secure, cost effective, flexible and scalable manner is critical.

Mobile Private Networks (MPN) or private wireless networks are 4G & 5G networks dedicated to a specific business, organisation, venue, or geographic area. Harbor Research estimates that the private IoT total addressable market will reach 208 billion dollars by 2025. 1 Use cases stretch through nearly every industry, from manufacturing to healthcare, transportation, and logistics. MPNs will be one of the key components of the modern business, supporting the interconnection of people and IOT.

Mobile Private Networks vs. Public Networks

MPNs use the same wireless technology as public networks. The difference resides in who owns the license or priority access to the wireless spectrum and who owns/operates the networks infrastructure. With public networks Mobile Network Operators (MNO) usually own and operate the spectrum and the infrastructure. MPNs can be owned and operated by any private organisation.

The most significant difference is, of course, that enterprises won’t deploy MPN’s for the purpose of running a mobile network and selling access to it. MPN’s are deployed to address business challenges, e.g. high-quality connectivity (data and video communications), secure mission-critical applications, reliable asset management, smart manufacturing and automation.

Use Cases for Mobile Private Networks

The benefits of MPNs are as diverse as the enterprises that will profit from them. In manufacturing, the automotive industry is a trendsetter. For example, Mercedes-Benz is already using MPNs to take the concept of Industry 4.0 to the next level. The German car manufacturer has cited several reasons which led to its decision to deploy a private network, “including the need for increased agility and shorter response times in the manufacturing process, and because data is stored internally there is no longer a need to share sensitive data with third parties.”2

Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) already deployed its MPN in 2018 to “expand wireless coverage and capacity at DAL for streamlined airport operations”3. MPNs will ensure reliable, secure and scalable wireless service at airports and will enable the move of all mission-critical communication to a separate network. Many airports have experienced unreliable mobile coverage or patchy Wi-Fi because of the sheer volume of connected devices. 4 With MPNs, airports will be able to free up existing Wi-Fi networks to deliver a faster and richer experience for passengers and airport guests as well as protect critical operational services and applications.

Healthcare providers, smart facilities, logistical centres, and other sectors are also already starting to explore the advantages MPNs bring and are leading the way into a new age of connectivity.

How We Can Help You Get Into the MPN Game

Flint’s wealth of experience in this space comes from 3 pillars.

  1. Our mobile heritage dating right back to our inception and some of those early packet core deployments in Europe.
  2. Radio planning and design services which will become increasingly important on the customer premise as the core component is transitioning more and more to the cloud and delivered as a service.
  3. Automation and NFV onboarding

We also have a specialised partner ecosystem that provides the enterprise looking to embark on this journey with consulting services to help guide them through the complex spectrum acquisition process.

The consulting team at Analysys Mason stresses that operators that manage “the network on behalf of the enterprise will need to introduce a high degree of automation to manage multiple networks in a cost-effective manner – skills that operators may lack (although their scale could be of benefit for this role)” 5. Flint is conscious of the great importance of automation in managing networks effectively and has been heavily investing in its automation and orchestration services for some time now. To strengthen and broaden our engineers’ automation skills we even launched our own Software Centre of Excellence for Automation and Orchestration.

“Finding consultants with both practical and academic expertise in this area is extremely challenging,” acknowledges Flint Group Sales and Marketing Director Ian Ashford. “We have been uniquely fortunate enough to have some of the industry’s most advanced automation and orchestration experts on our team. Our experts not only work on project-based engagements but also with the business units of some of the industry’s leading software vendors. This ensures that they are always at the leading edge and ready to support our customers and partners.”

Complementing the Enterprise

We have created services designed to supplement your existing team (enterprise or systems integrator) to accelerate the adoption of this new technology and provide day 2 support services.  ABI Research survey on MPNs shows that 3 out of 5 industrial manufacturers across key markets in Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region would prefer their private network to be managed & operated by a third party 6.

These services focus predominantly on ensuring we complement the enterprise IT teams who will probably not have the experience in mobile core technology, RAN or network automation. Through our Learning Services, we can also provide training and knowledge transfer to upskill the IT teams, share best practices, and elevate their technical know-how. Additionally, our engineers also provide pre-sales support, consulting, scoping and bid response services to support our service provider and vendor customers.

Complementing the Hyperscaler

The principles associated with complementing the enterprise are equally applicable to the Hyperscaler. Whilst the Hyperscaler focused on its core competence, Flint is able to supplement their in-house expertise and help them gain access to this new technology play and, importantly, the 23.4% CAGR associated with this in a market stated to grow to 7.2 billion by 2024.

Would you like to know more about how our staff augmentation and professional services can help you kickstart your Mobile Private Network journey? Contact us!

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1 Harbor Research. The Advent of Private LTE and 5G Networks, 2021.
2 NEC. The Growing Case for Private 5G Networks, 5 Mar 2021.
3 Boingo. Boingo Deploys CBRS at Dallas Love Field Airport, 23 Jul 2018.
4 Nokia. How can pervasive broadband wireless communications optimise airport operations? International Airport Review, 18 Nov 2019.
5 Mackenzie, M and C. Chappell. Private LTE/5G networks: telecoms operators must differentiate their offers in a crowded market, 2 Nov 2020.
6 ABI Research. Private Cellular Networks to Generate Over US$64 Billion in Equipment Revenues by 2030, 20 Oct 2020.

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