Consider the superior performance that 5G offers in terms of security and data flow, as well as the reliability, speed, mobility, flexibility, efficiency, and coverage that supports the necessary connectivity for advanced – smart – technology applications.

As more organisations develop operations, processes, and services that require strong and ubiquitous cellular coverage, private networks are quickly emerging as necessary to address these high connectivity needs.

It then becomes easy to understand why 5G private network implementation is gaining traction as the preferred infrastructure for enterprises taking advantage of the opportunities that 5G presents. More practically, private networks are also ideal for regulating key operational technology priorities, especially data flow and security, for precinct operators such as municipalities, large venues, and campuses.

Key factors giving rise to private network deployment

Private networks powered by 4G / 5G cellular wireless technologies offer unparalleled capability and are backed by a huge commercial ecosystem. In contrast, public networks often cannot meet extreme requirements for coverage, capacity, reliability, security, low latency, or low power devices. Private networks not only overcome these challenges, but the evolved technology ecosystem makes them feasible for organisations in any sector.

They are highly customizable and are generally designed and deployed by infrastructure companies like BAI Communications to meet specific requirements, starting with coverage. Large indoor venues such as factories, warehouses, transportation hubs, tunnels and underground locations require ubiquitous coverage for smooth operations and network slicing to be possible.

These environments are also increasingly leveraging IoT, automation, machine learning, and data analytics technologies, which can make their operations and services more vulnerable to disruption and change. For advanced technology functions to be robust, coverage cannot have dead spots or downtime, which can be assured by private networks.

High capacity is another benefit of private networks, especially since it can be provided, and adapted or upgraded on demand, at a reasonable cost by a telecommunications infrastructure company. The capacity offered by public networks is insufficient or highly costly to support extensive operations and the associated technology requirements of scale alone, let alone advanced functionality.

A high capacity network is needed to support high bandwidth services, such as video calls, across many devices in a large organisation or to hundreds or thousands of users simultaneously in a stadium. Functionally, high capacity is also needed to support the extensive number of low-bandwidth sensors necessary to deploy IoT and complementary technology. Private networks, again, can readily deliver on these requirements.

Another important driver in deploying private networks is the requirement for low latency, to ensure fast reaction times across varying network loads. Industries such as resources, manufacturing, and logistics require industrial controls with very low latency to ensure fast processing and reaction times. With lower latency, communication among connected devices is far more effective and instantaneous, making cloud services and applications more responsive and capable, offering instant access to information, seamless video conferencing, and reduced employee downtime. Businesses relying on automation can monitor, identify, and fix faults in real time, avoiding costly asset downtime.

Finally, high reliability and security are also critical advantages of private networks, features that cannot be met by public networks. Private networks are designed to protect data, device and user identities, and locations as well as external security threats. They provide organisations with complete control over their networks and ensure that communications are always available, even in adverse conditions.

Important considerations for design and deployment

First, make sure your infrastructure provider is designing and/or deploying a future-proofed network. Meaning, a network that won’t require re-engineering in the foreseeable future. It is best, and less costly in the long run, to deploy 5G-ready 4G infrastructure that is easily activated for 5G, rather than opting for short-term cost savings over the long-term cost of restructuring the network in years to come.

The next important consideration is selecting the network infrastructure provider. An infrastructure contract with a single mobile network operator (MNO) may be a long-term restraint for your organisation due to the contractual obligations that must be met and the cost of breaking them or even changing provider at contract expiry. The infrastructure built by an existing MNO is tailored to the services and technology it offers. Neutral host infrastructure presents the options of flexibility and (re)negotiation.

A neutral host network, owned and operated by a third party, provides wholesale mobile coverage solutions to MNOs or other communications service providers that can all use – share – a single network. Its greatest potential is to improve 5G and 4G network reach and capacity in rural areas, inside large buildings, in city-centres, and along major roads and railways.

BAI Communications is an industry leader in providing 5G ready future-proofed, neutral host wireless and fibre-optic services tailored to suit the local environment. This capability sees BAI responsible for significant infrastructure projects that deliver cellular and Wi-Fi coverage in the major cities of New York, Toronto, and Hong Kong that serve as solid support for the neutral host private network business case.

In perhaps the most significant example of a neutral host infrastructure project, Transport for London (TfL) recently awarded BAI Communications a 20-year contract to deliver high-speed mobile connectivity across the capital in the most advanced and largest infrastructure project of its type in the world. BAI’s partnership with TfL will establish a long-awaited backbone of connectivity with a city-wide integrated communications network delivering multi-carrier cellular, Wi-Fi, and fibre connectivity services.

The 4G-enabled and 5G-ready communications network that BAI will build and operate as a neutral host for fixed and mobile operators will fast-track London’s evolution as a smart city. BAI will also help to create a safer, smarter London by building and operating critical communications infrastructure that will support police, fire, and ambulance services.

These important considerations will help both government and private organisations avoid some of the key risks associated with establishing a telecommunications network. They will also ensure that technology employed by an organisation is operating at maximum effect and achieving intended business outcomes to provide the best experience for the people and customers served by that organisation.

Private networks and 5G make a great team

The possibilities of 5G present an evolving world of opportunity for enterprise. Its revolutionary capability in making systems operate more effectively, allocating resources more efficiently, and minimising waste more than any other technology is cause for rethinking the relationship between technology and operations. Private networks support the endeavours of public and private organisations to achieve their desired business outcomes efficiently and cost-effectively to best serve the people they are serving.

Thus, neutral host infrastructure providers, especially those partnering with MNOs such as BAI Communications, have a big role to play in supporting public and private to establish ‘smart communities’ with their 5G ready private networks as a way of contributing to smart city development in a meaningful and achievable way.