It is unsurprising that the exponential growth of the IoT has brought new challenges with it. One of those is scalability: the total number of IoT connections is expected to reach 23 billion by 2025, rising from 13 billion IoT connections in 2020.1 As the number of connected devices continues to rise, we increasingly require networks that can provide the connectivity required with acceptable latency and high levels of security.
The benefits and security of a private 5G network
With low latency, increased security, greater flexibility, and higher throughput, the benefits of private networks are clear. And with the rollout of 5G technology surging, we look at how private cellular networks can benefit organizations today.
Traditional public cellular networks are unsuitable for this task, lacking the bandwidth and consuming a great deal of power. But with the right service provider, 4G (LTE) networks can be used to provide a seamless transition to 5G private networks, as they offer many of the benefits promised by 5G – low latency, high bandwidth, and secure access.
We’re on the cusp of a widespread 5G rollout, which will offer real-time capabilities and network efficiency, among others, and new solutions are constantly becoming available for enterprises. By February 2022, almost 200 licenses for private 5G networks had been issued in Germany.2 This figure is similar in other countries.
Secure, private, and increasingly appealing
5G-enabled technologies and dedicated spectrum bands mean that it is both possible and entirely realistic for enterprises to set up private networks today. Simply put, a private network is any connection based on LTE technology, with certain restrictions to ensure in-house data security. In 2021, there were private networks in around 40 countries and territories, but that number is set to increase as the rollout of 5G technology picks up speed.3 Exponential growth is expected over the coming years, with market figures suggesting that there will be 16,000 global private networks by 2025, up from 1,100 in 2020.4 Private networks are being adopted in a range of industries, including mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and in the automotive industry. Each organization has its own specific requests as to what a private network should do, and solutions are diverse and adaptable.
There are a number of advantages of cellular private networks, including the following:
- Reduced dependency on one-size-fits-all solutions offered by network operators
- Ensuring ownership of key aspects of data processing and storage
- Flexibility and tailorability of security policies
- Low operating costs
- High levels of reliable and secure connectivity
- Low levels of latency
- Location-independent (wireless connection)
- Central connectivity management for all IoT devices and machines
- Fast reconfiguration
- Optional back-up coverage via public mobile networks
Compared to traditional, wired connections – still the connection of choice for enterprise and industrial IoT – private 5G networks offer much more flexibility when, for example, machines or equipment need to be moved or a production line needs to be reconfigured. Modification also happens much faster, which is another benefit as product cycles become shorter and shorter.
In addition to optimizing production areas, private 5G networks also have advantages for offices where devices such as notebooks are currently connected via Wi-Fi or LAN. A seamless handover between private and public cellular networks is user-friendly and also highly secure due to the possibility of central connectivity management (no risk of losing Wi-Fi keys, for example). The central IT of the companies manages the connectivity of devices in a similar manner to their security (update management).
For organizations that are looking to connect a large number of IoT devices, or are using IoT devices in critical roles or with high-bandwidth applications, private networks can prove particularly advantageous. Sönke Schröder, Director Product Marketing and Innovations at G+D, notes that “due to the high level of security, flexibility, and manageability, private 5G networks will help to significantly accelerate digitalization, especially for enterprise and industrial IoT.”
A top-of-the-range expo venue
The Deutsche Messe grounds is home to one of the biggest exhibition centers in the world. Located in Hanover, Germany, with almost 400,000 square meters of indoor space and 58,000 square meters of open-air space, 10,000 parking spaces, two congress centers, 30 halls and buildings, and its own train station, it hosts dozens of expos every single year.5
To cement its status as one of the world’s best exhibition centers, Deutsche Messe AG looked to modernize its infrastructure, and decided to make the site the world’s largest smart venue. As a partner of Deutsche Messe AG, G+D is part of the smart venue project at the Hanover venue. Marcus Eibach, Department Lead 5G / Technology Innovations at Deutsche Messe AG, says, “When we started looking at 5G, we noted three major aspects:
5G doesn’t just enable consumer devices, it also enables IoT devices for industrial and professional use – thus driving innovation. And with that, a 5G network supports our core business.
25% of the frequency spectrum in Germany is dedicated to private networks, and we saw it as an opportunity for Deutsche Messe AG as the owner of a venue that covers a space of 1.5 million square meters.
A private 5G network is a business development opportunity for the venue itself, and our smart venue can be used as a testbed for multiple use cases – areas covering smart manufacturing, smart mobility, logistics, agriculture, media, broadcasting, and more.”
The Hanover exhibition site will offer a powerful 5G communications network with cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and PWLAN. The benefits for companies are immense: increased reliability, great availability of bandwidths, strong data security and fast data transmission, and a closed radio network. Making the transition to 5G tangible, Deutsche Messe AG has cemented the site as one of the most innovative exhibition locations in the world.
Private but flexible
As mentioned above, organizations’ requirements differ immensely when it comes to the needs of their private networks. For some, a great deal of devices must be integrated. For others, autonomous vehicles need to be anabled. And in manufacturing plants and with other use cases that depend on supplies being delivered and goods being shipped, it’s important to be able to roam on and off the private networks onto the public WLAN.
The future of IoT
The combinations of IoT and 5G technology are in an early phase, but the increase in speed means that IoT devices will be able to communicate and share data faster than ever. The benefits of 5G-enabled private networks are substantial, and must be given proper consideration by businesses that take the IoT seriously. As a nascent technology, this will not be without its challenges – the right partners will be key for future, long-term success.
IoT market update: assessing disruption and opportunities, forecasting connections to 2030, GSMA Intelligence, 2021
Private Mobile Networks: Member Report – May 2021, GSA, 2021
Private LTE & 5G networks 2021, Kaleido Intelligence, July 2021
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