October 13, 2020

The 5G question: public or private?

As manufacturers explore the adoption of 5G, it is necessary to consider which model makes the most sense for their organizational needs.

For many years, the debate between the private and public has been an ongoing discussion in the IT space, as organizations have constantly moved their applications and data into cloud environments. A similar debate is now emerging as manufacturers seek to reap the rewards of leveraging 5G wireless technology.

The important thing is to understand the driving force behind the growing push to follow the private network path, explains Qualcomm’s head of product management, Patrik Lundqvist. Simply put, control is often the greatest motivation.

“When telecommunications equipment manufacturers deploy something in their facilities, they want to have full control over the entire process. With this strong trend towards machine learning and AI, there is a goal to collect as much data as possible, while applying machine learning to improve efficiencies and profitability,” he says. “But that also means that the data collected is an asset for them. As such, they want to make sure that the data does not get out of their control. The idea that private networks create an environment where data can actually be maintained on site is an important concept.

Limiting the potential for performance issues is often a secondary motivation, especially as 5G networks grow in acceptance. Understandably, manufacturers do not want to be in a situation where they are dependent on continuous changes to an operator’s public network.

Is the private model right?

“There are many models, and it’s going to be very exciting to see which one will be the most prevalent,” says Lundqvist. As a technology provider, chip provider, as well as a small cell provider, Qualcomm is in a position to support all of them.

The implementation model is that the operator, who is expert in the acquisition, operation, and deployment of wireless networks, could offer private networks as a service. This would mean that they operate as an independent network, but are managed by the operator. In this case the operator has the spectrum. The question here is which provider offers the best options.

There are also models that include unlicensed spectrum, creating an opportunity for anyone to develop a private network. Some regions also have dedicated spectrum where companies can apply for local spectrum to boost their industrial IoT applications.

“The upcoming launch of 5G also provides architectural support for different combinations of private and public network where manufacturers can choose to share different aspects of the core network and combine them with network outage and virtualization,” he says.

Cost differences will undoubtedly play a key role in deciding which model.

Understanding the Upcoming Release

Although the deployment model is a crucial issue for manufacturers, 5G’s continued development enhances its value within the smart factory environment. The upcoming launch of 5G expands support for new verticals even in the industrial sector. Specifically, the new capabilities focus on industrial OR, including production enhancement, reliable low-latency communication and time-sensitive networking, which are crucial components in supporting industrial automation.

Today’s companies depend on a very high-performance communication link that controls all their devices from A to Z. As IO grows, the ability to support mission-critical applications with ultra-reliable, low-latency communication is a necessity.

“That’s the connection that has been the most difficult to make wirelessly, and that’s what we’re doing in the upcoming 5G launch. What is exciting is that the requirements are not coming from the wireless industry, but it is the OT industry that has defined the requirements that are necessary for the different applications within the industrial manufacturing automation space,” says Lundqvist. “It includes reliability of up to 99.9999%, which is a one-in-a-million package with a latency rate of one millisecond. Those are extreme requirements that have not been possible before with wireless technology. 5G also adds native support for the IEEE protocol to create the tightly synchronized system needed for industrial automation.

Source: Industry Week