Private 5G Realities


  • Private 5G is referred to as P5G in this article.
  • Private LTE (4G) is referred to as PLTE in this article.
  • VoLTE is Voice of LTE (4G)
  • VoNR is Voice over 5G (NR).
  • Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi, if I have to spell that out for you, just stop reading now. 

What is P5G?

Private 5G. This is basically a private wireless network that uses 5G as the wireless and network standard. Generally called 5G SA. SA stands for Stand Alone which is a term used by carriers when they have an end-to-end network that is built specifically for 5G and all its services. 

What you need for this is a core, which is where the user data can be stored and controlled along with network operation parameters. Security will be spread across the entire network.

You also have backhaul, connections across the network and to the internet.

Finally, you have radios. 5G radios on a 5G spectrum like CBRS or something like that. You could be in the Wi-Fi spectrum using it if there are radios that do that, but I think all the US cable companies fought MuLTEfire which was LTE (4G) in the Wi-Fi spectrum. I don’t think anyone wants to put 5G in that spectrum anytime soon. At least in the US. I would bet the cable companies regret that now as they wish to offload data from big carriers onto their own networks. (Cable companies sponsored Cable Labs for that report.) 

Who will deploy and use P5G?

Whoever has a business need for robust and secure private wireless networks to serve a business purpose! 

What does that mean?

The businesses that need P5G probably already know it. They are going to keep what they have until they see a solid payback. A solid payback requires a solid use case that is specific to that business. It is not just to build more wireless networks. It has to create efficiencies and cost savings for that company. 

Building a justified business case takes time. This won’t happen overnight. 

Most companies that had an immediate need, [like ports, warehouses, manufacturing, and mining], already built PLTE networks. They did it for their specific use case. It could be for tracking, safety, communications, temperature control, or anything else specific to their business.

P5G will be the choice going forward, but what’s the payback? Will the investment generate a payback? We all hope so. Oh, I don’t expect you to answer, each business looking at it has to answer that for themselves. 

Why? Because it will not be cheap to build or maintain, regardless of what your suppliers tell you. It’s not nearly as cheap as Wi-Fi. Not as easy to implement. At least not today. 

For manufacturing, they will want to utilize more than just 5G. It will be a new paradigm that begins with utilizing all the tools at their disposal. What does that mean?

Tools for a manufacturer to redesign the factory will include:

  • Wireless and secure connections so that they can make quick changes,
  • Digital Twin models so the testing time and materials are at a minimum since the digital twin will work out the problems prior to implementation. 
  • ML and AI to overcome issues, like overproduction, underproduction, and supply changes. Not to mention real-time monitoring, counting, and analytics.
  • Video Quality control to catch problems that would otherwise go undetected.
  • Separate Wi-Fi for less secure network offloading. Things that are not mission-critical. 
  • Security on the business network to protect data and production.
  • Data collection and tracking dashboard for real-time analytics.

Don’t get me wrong, some companies will build a network just to build a network and see what it can do, but most companies want to see payback in production.

Mining will be different, they have to connect underground with reliable devices, so they will have their use case and IoT models built just for them. They will also need emergency backchannels, so having a voice channel may be a priority as well as alert systems.

Use cases matter, especially in P5G. Use cases determine payback and expansion for each company. 

Will we have P5G Operators?

Yes. It’s not if we will, but who will do it. We may rely on hyperscalers and carriers. I think if a campus or building is big enough, someone will try to build their own network instead of relying on DAS. It makes sense to offload the carriers in this way. I am not sure if this will make money or be seen as a value add to the end users. I don’t see a solid payback model here.

I think it’s a daunting task to build an end-to-end P5G network. I think the core confuses enterprises. Why build a core when you can use an existing one?

Today, there are so many small cores providers. The small ones may not offer what the hyperscalers can. I think that’s where Google Cloud, Azure, and AWS fill the need. Everyone knows them and trusts them. Many enterprises and businesses already work with them in some way. 

I also think the carriers could enter this market, but they’re already making it too hard. How would you sign up or get them to work with you?

If you’re a smaller enterprise there are too many obstacles with carriers. They’re too slow, you have to work with a specific group, be an existing customer or have a rep just for you.

With the hyperscalers, you could probably go online and figure it out.

What if they allowed roaming from building to building? That would be cool.

What if you could add services, like file sharing or video? I think it would be easy with a cloud provider. 

Will we see P5G Network Integrators?

Of course, we already have plenty. There are so many companies doing P5G designs, builds, and operations. I won’t list them off here, but Nokia and Celona are two of them. 

Then there are builders, like Integra and others that offer indoor solutions. They will design and build what you want. 

You could build and operate your own or you could offload it to another and have them build and manage it while you pay a monthly fee. I think P5G as a service will be a thing. This is where the carriers could shine. They could do this, but can they really manage it properly and make it cost-effective? Today, I would say no, but who knows, maybe they will figure it out. 

The good news? Everyone will need a network built. 

The bad news? It’s very regional work. If you’re not in-market then you won’t want to do construction for a reasonable cost. The contractors should have relationships with landlords/owners alongside RF-experienced workers. That’s what I see. 

Who will design the systems? For RF design, most companies won’t bother, they will just look around and hope for the next unless they have a larger business that needs specific coverage. We’ll see lots of shortcuts along the way. 

Will we see P5G as a Service?

Yes. Already being done for PTLE. 

Smaller IoT companies already offer IoT and data on their Core as a Service. However, upgrading from PLTE to 5G is hitting several companies hard. So is adding voice services, (VoNR or VoLTE), which most companies probably won’t offer.  

Will this business grow? Yes, because this is what’s going to enable the Hyperscalers. They made the cloud so easy that we expect 5G to be almost as easy. As you know Azure is already a major player in this market. They are aggressively going after it. Businesses trust Microsoft regardless of its flaws. While they won’t offer the network as a service, you can offload so much to them, like the core functions, and it becomes manageable. 

We have larger OEMs like Ericsson and Nokia, already making progress. Specifically, Nokia has many customers under NDAC providing PLTE. They have a jump on the market, but is it enough to maintain dominance? 

Keep in mind there are several companies offering Core as a service. Already a thing. 

What P5G won’t need….

It won’t need Lithium Ion batteries unless the company puts them in. Why did I bring this up? Because I wrote about the human rights issues that Cobalt is causing.

I don’t think it will need a carrier thanks to dual SIMs. I believe that your smartphone if it rides on your P5G network will be able to bounce between the two. I am sure there will be kinks to be worked out but hey, all new technologies require time to get better. 

Don’t think this is all about broadband, most P5G networks need wireless connectivity and specific applications. We don’t need to compete with broadband networks when all we’re doing is collecting data. 

What to do when deciding on a P5G network?

  1. Define your use case.
  2. Define your payback.
  3. Assign your team.
  4. Talk to experts.
  5. Decide exactly what services you need or want like IoT functions, voice, broadband, analytics, etc.
  6. Define your budget.
  7. Adjust the budget for risks, growth, and upgrades. 
  8. Rule out companies that don’t make sense.
  9. Reach out to partners that make sense.
  10. Get started. 

Learn more at

#P5G #Private5G #PLTE #PrivateLTE


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