5G is coming, but private LTE will be here first

5G will play a critical role for extending mobile connectivity in every industry, connecting devices, sensors and computers with wider and faster connectivity. Yet, until 5G is fully realized, there is no need to wait around. Private LTE networks have become easier to establish with recent technological developments. In fact, many companies are using both the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz band and 5 GHz bands, along with the LAA band to increase network capacity and speed.

Since the FCC established CBRS in 2015, dozens of companies, such as Arris International and Federated Wireless, have turned in special temporary authority (STA) permissions to conduct their own testing of the band in buildings. Apart from CBRS, the MulteFire Alliance aids in the facilitation of creating a neutral host network. These forms of private LTE can blend previous public LTE benefits into a mechanism where operators, carriers and venue owners easily connect users, devices and enterprise applications more efficiently. Essentially, owners are able to control and optimize their own network.

This new build your own network (BYON) model allows mobile operators to provide access to their licensed spectrum so organizations can establish their own private LTE networks. Additionally, vertical-domain specialists are also offering private LTE- and 5G-ready network solutions through partnerships with established network infrastructure OEMs, such as Nokia and Samsung. Lowering the barrier to entry for private LTE creates the opportunity for enterprises to increase mobility, limiting the need for wired networks and Wi-Fi.

Private LTE empowers customers with the BYON model to run their own local network with dedicated equipment and settings. Those given the right to test their own private LTE networks have the ability to control the network and its performance in instances of traffic surges, configuring for optimal upload and download speeds and keeping productivity high with optimization and tailoring to a company’s IoT applications.

Private networks can offer control over wireless latency and coverage, ensuring connectivity for users while supporting a wider range of applications. Private LTE has multiple use cases, ranging from simple applications such as monitoring and location services; compound applications including asset management and automation; and complex applications like smart cities and smart transportation systems.

Recent reports show the impact private LTE will have on the market in various sectors:

General market

In SNS Telecom and IT’s private LTE and 5G network report, they forecast private LTE and 5G as becoming the increasingly preferred approach for delivery in critical communication, industrial IoT, enterprise and campus environments, and public venues. The overall market will eventually account for more than $5 billion in annual spending by the end of 2021.

Public safety

Public safety is a sector that will be largely impacted by private LTE, consequently causing it to dominate the market due to nationwide public safety coverage requirements. IHS Markit forecasts that the critical communication broadband LTE market, including private LTE for mission-critical enterprise communication as well as public safety LTE, will reach $2.6 billion in 2020. National governments around the world, particularly those in Europe, are suggesting that companies use secure mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) models to avoid costs related to large-scale LTE networks by pairing private mobile core platforms with commercial LTE for critical communication users.

The national rollout of FirstNet in the United States is based on LTE, demonstrating how private LTE can be utilized in public safety, and how public safety efforts can sustain long-term future growth.

Industrial and commercial opportunities

With the introduction of more smart systems into the market, networks of the past are incapable of handling the diversity of growing devices and the increase in customer requirements. Four and a half million industrial and commercial opportunities and sites are expected to arise in the mining industry, hospitals and manufacturing warehouses, along with military bases. These sites will need the adoption of private LTE to meet their customer and industry demands as the internet of things presents connectivity challenges and requirements, such as mobility, security and low latency in applications like real-time surveillance, remote diagnostics and asset management.

Companies that use private LTE opportunities will continuously increase adoption in the industrial and commercial industry while integrating wireless networks as a complementary tool.

The private LTE market is expected to grow in the coming years, and its regulation and testing will provide a tremendous stopgap while 5G networks are built.

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