Aerial view of football stadium, a prime application of private networks
#Connectivity & IoT

LTE private networks: switching to 5G

6 Mins.

Private long-term evolution (LTE) networks are the backbone of Industry 4.0, supporting business-critical sensor monitoring, location tracking, connected workers, and autonomous vehicles. These self-contained networks are an alternative to Wi-Fi and public mobile networks, with upcoming 5G versions set to offer customers increased bandwidth and reduced latency, as well as improved security and reliability. We asked Sharath Muddaiah, Director, Strategic Solutions & Business Development, Trusted Connected Devices, G+D, to tell us more.

Sharat Muddaiah, what do private networks offer? And how do you set one up?

A woman socially connected by night with 5G
5G and LTE mobile networks could revolutionize the way we connect with each other via our phones

Private long-term evolution (LTE) networks can be deployed almost anywhere, including areas where mobile phone coverage is not available. They enable organizations to optimize their network, secure their data in-house, have better cost management, and support specific service-level agreements (SLAs).

Enterprises can embrace these self-contained networks with the help of mobile network operators (MNOs), network infrastructure specialists, or even dynamic startups that provide simple “network in a box” solutions. This will provide them with a seamless path from 4G LTE to 5G services once they’re available.

What applications and tasks are private networks best suited for?

Most of the discussions we engage in focus on how and why private networks can support existing Wi-Fi or cabled networks, or even replace them. Enterprises have numerous high-performance requirements that their network needs to support, such as enhanced mobility, capacity for mission-critical applications, and higher security standards. These are some of the key strengths of a private network.

Private networks also address a large variety of use cases. Take stadiums, which often host tens of thousands of people. They need to ensure these visitors can enjoy high-speed internet access, while also prioritizing and managing other tools and services, such as live-streaming security cameras.

Meanwhile, Industry 4.0 relies on ultra-low latency and very high reliability (up to 99.9999% SLAs) for smart manufacturing. Underground stations and in-building services also use neutral host networks that allow multiple operators to co-access the network and provide high-speed internet access using the shared spectrum. This creates better high-speed access in congested areas.

Establishing a private LTE or 5G network is a complex task. What kinds of challenges do companies face?

Private networks give you access to all network events. This ensures you have visibility to any anomaly, malfunction, or hack attempt. Also, you can ensure the data stays local by connecting the network to your existing organizational firewall.

With LTE you also have full control over all the devices that are on your network, thanks to the basic principles of authentication provided by the public key infrastructure (PKI) on the SIM. Additionally, all traffic data sent over the network is encrypted, just as it is on well-known MNO LTE networks.

“The next phase of the 5G standard will make it even easier for enterprises to switch from wired, Wi-Fi, and 4G LTE networks to private 5G ones“
Sharath Muddaiah
Director, Strategic Solutions & Business Development, Trusted Connected Devices, G+D

What technical developments are emerging with private LTE/5G networks?

Portrait image of G+D 5G expert, Sharath Muddaiah
Sharath Muddaiah, Director of Strategic Solutions, 5G and Internet of Things, at G+D Mobile Security

In our increasingly connected society, there is a big need for enterprises to remain agile. But innovative approaches are needed to reduce logistical complexity in favor of more flexibility, and this is where SIM and device management comes into play.

Take a new business model like renting autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs). An AGV must be onboarded and given safe access into the private network of enterprise A, remain in the facility for the agreed timespan, be taken off enterprise A’s network after the job is done, and moved to the private network of enterprise B for use the following business week.

For this model to work smoothly, you need device identity management and credential management services like those provided by G+D, who are world leaders in this area. In addition, G+D offers profile management services between private networks and public MNO networks, many of which we already service and support. And finally, we also provide international mobile subscriber identity, or IMSI, concealment and encryption for upcoming 5G standalone networks.

It’s worth noting that the next phase of the 5G standard, known as Release 16, will make it even easier for enterprises to switch from wired, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE networks to private 5G ones. It focuses on three key areas that will enable extremely fast communication between devices in high-connection densities, even in environments full of interference.

This will allow businesses to reimagine the way they design and operate their premises, potentially using network slicing to create multiple virtual networks optimized for different use cases, including critically important data traffic. It’s an exciting prospect for any enterprise, but particularly those at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 revolution.

Published: 05/10/2020

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