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Private Networks must be demystified for UK businesses to reap the rewards

by Andrew Conway

20 May 2022

From healthcare to hospitality, wind farms to warehouses, education to manufacturing, private networks are delivering the fast, secure, and efficient connectivity that organisations need.

In practice, private networks in their various guises have been around for several years. The difference now is that, enabled by advances in technology, they offer much richer experiences.

While technology is important – be it Wi-Fi, 4G or 5G – ultimately it is the business outcomes that drive private network deployment, not the other way around.

Enterprises that first identify the problem to be solved, then turn to the technology to resolve the challenge, achieve better outcomes.

New enablers such as 5G, IoT and data analytics are acting as accelerants at a time where organisations are adapting to cater for new customer needs, increased efficiency and decarbonising.

BAI Communications (BAI) – a neutral host company that designs and deploys shared systems to a variety of connected transport systems, connected venues and connected places – provides two real-life examples of private networks designed in the UK, which include Sunderland Smart City and an offshore wind farm in Scotland.

In collaboration with the Sunderland City Council, BAI is building a 5G private network for use in the city centre. The core network will provide a 5G and IoT accelerator for the city, as well as providing capability for enterprises such as the education sector and manufacturing verticals.

Vilicom, a BAI company, is an expert in deploying state of the art wireless solutions in complex and challenging environments. One such deployment is a private 5G LTE network for the Moray East offshore wind farm in Scotland. The wind farm covers an area of 295km2, comprising of 100 offshore wind turbine generators that will provide approximately 40% of the total electricity demand in Scotland, and power 950,00 homes in the UK.

Public cellular was not possible for this project, due to the offshore location and satellite deemed not cost effective for this application. In addition, the client had stringent requirements for latency and jitter. Therefore, a design was developed for a bespoke private LTE/5G ready private network to provide reliable connectivity over this large area, using Vilicom’s ‘GIGAWAVE’ solution. The network was deployed using a cloud-based network with virtualised open RAN technology.

Navigating these new solutions is often daunting for a business or organisation. This is why, as part of my role as Chair of techUK’s Communications Infrastructure and Services Council, I fully support techUK’s new Private Networks white paper which acts as a practical guide to the choices presented, demystifying the technology to allow successful implementation for organisations within the UK.

This blog was originally published by techUK.

Andrew Conway

Andrew Conway

Director of Solutions, Innovation and Technology, BAI Communications UK

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