A lot of discussion around the rollout of 5G focuses on emerging use cases and, more importantly, monetizing 5G. One such theme of announcements at MWC 2022 was private networks. It is still an emerging market but developing rapidly with an expanding ecosystem. Let us look at the significant announcements made at MWC on private networks.
HPE extends enterprise connectivity with private 5G offering
HPE introduced a private 5G solution that offers seamless interworking across both private 5G and Wi-Fi networks. The solution is based on the HPE 5G Core Stack and comes pre-integrated with RAN solutions from Airspan and other leading vendors.
- The solution supports two deployment options – ‘fully autonomous’ deployment for sensitive or remote operations such as military and ‘distributed in a hybrid cloud’ deployment for critical applications in places such as hospitals.
- HPE private 5G solutions are designed to operate in tandem with Aruba Wi-Fi networks. This integration provides seamless synergies and session continuity between Wi-Fi and 5G, which is also a market differentiator for HPE solutions.
- The solution is available on a pay-as-you-use basis with HPE GreenLake, making it scalable and easy on upfront costs for the customers.
AT&T Private 5G Edge to make private networks simple, flexible and easy to use
AT&T teamed up with Microsoft to develop AT&T Private 5G Edge by integrating its 5G network with Azure private MEC. The service is still under preview and details on commercial availability will be announced later in the year.
- The solution brings private networks as an integrated platform with connectivity and applications to enable low-latency services at the edge. It allows customers to roam beyond private networks boundary while still connected to the operator’s public network.
- AT&T has a large pool of enterprise customers and the new service is aimed at small/mid-size businesses or companies with distributed footprint. The operator is focusing on the needs of this segment by designing a scalable and simple solution that will accelerate the speed of deployment.
- Some of the early use cases will be seen in manufacturing plants, medical clinics, retail stores, schools/universities, restaurants, and more.
Qualcomm partners Microsoft to deliver end-to-end, easy-to-deploy, scalable 5G private network solution
- The collaboration has introduced a pre-validated private 5G solution that combines Qualcomm’s 5G technologies and hardware ecosystem with Azure Private MEC, including Azure Private 5G Core.
- The highly customizable solution targets the right pain points. It aims to reduce adoption barriers and operating costs for high-performance 5G connectivity solutions serving global enterprises.
ZTE demonstrates full process of private network-as-a-service
ZTE’s 5G private network strategy is to deliver innovative ‘Private Network-as-a-Service’ through operators and target industrial customers. The business model is based on service templates and all-scenario precise deployment to offer tailor-made private network services and explore new market opportunities. The offering simplifies the customization process, reduces operational costs and speeds up deployment.
Cisco announces go-to-market strategy for private 5G offering
Cisco Private 5G is delivered ‘as-a-service’ with a pay-as-you-use subscription model. It is easy to integrate with existing enterprise systems, including Wi-Fi. Typically, the focus is on making it financially simple to understand with no upfront infrastructure costs and no requirement for customers’ IT teams to train on complex solutions.
The solution is built on Cisco’s mobile core network technology and IoT portfolio. Cisco is working closely with vendors such as JMA and Airspan, given that open RAN technology is a key component of the solution.
Microsoft Azure Private 5G Core to be integrated with Capgemini’s private network solutions
Capgemini’s private network solutions will be integrated with Azure Private 5G Core with Qualcomm’s advanced 5G technologies and Capgemini’s MEC platform to bring end-to-end simplified solutions for enterprises. The solution will be validated in Capgemini’s 5G Lab in Portugal.
- Traditional private networks were mainly designed for large and complex set-ups, taking several months to deploy. But now, we see an increased focus on developing transformative end-to-end cloud-based private 5G solutions, making them substantially faster and easier to deploy.
- On-demand cloud pricing models, scalability and simplified procurement and deployment process are the key highlights of these announcements. Counterpoint Research believes such developments will reduce adoption barriers among enterprises and accelerate the global adoption of 5G private networks.
- Public cloud players are increasingly becoming involved in the private network market, bringing various edge offerings. Players are introducing innovative service-based models that resonate with enterprise requirements and have the power to disrupt the private network market. With an established and ever-growing customer base of enterprises, they are likely to focus initially on the low end of the market and offer easy and simplified solutions.
So, can we expect 2022 to be a turnaround year for private 5G networks? We still see LTE dominating private network deployments during the year, but these developments will likely act as market catalysts. Ecosystem players are moving in the right direction by introducing simplified end-to-end solutions. It will help drive awareness of 5G private networks and enable service providers to capitalize on enterprise connectivity requirements.
However, there is still an enormous amount of hype in the private network market, with many new entrants, both service providers and vendors, believing it to be one of 5G’s low-hanging fruit. Many service providers still do not understand enterprise requirements and with a very fragmented market, there will inevitably be a market shakeout within two to three years.