Kathy Gibson is at Mobile World Congress 2022 – Private 5G networks offer enterprises new opportunities to transform themselves, digitalise and find new ways to serve their customers.

This is the message from Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business, who says private networks and private edge compute complement the networks that are commonly in use today.

“Private networks offer a big opportunity to dramatically transform absolutely everything about the business,” she says.

Erwin cites the example of a private network deployed by Associated British Ports, which was battling with revenue growth, supply chain and employee engagement.

They realised that WiFi was no longer working effectively for them as they wanted guaranteed cover, low latency, better speed and control.

“We implemented a private network for them and they were able to transform their work environment,” says Erwin. “Evidence of how well it worked is the fact that they now want to double what they have.”

She believes private networks will be the gateway to edge computing. “There is tremendous data being generated from all the connectivity and devices they have, and there are endless use cases for this data.

“The network has helped Associated British Ports to transform how they service their customers, how their employees engage, and how data is used.”

A private 5G network delivers more throughout than a 4G network, and offers additional benefits including higher speed, lower latency of as little as sub-10ms, and sensor densification of up to 1-million per square kilometre.

Workloads on the private network can also be seamlessly switched to the public network, Erwin points out.

“We believe that private networks, public edge compute and business application/solutions will be a huge revenue generator for Verizon.

“They allow us to deploy complex digital transformation roadmaps that we have built around managed services. Private networks offer customers complete security, guaranteed coverage and low latency.”

Verizon believes that private networking is a $30-billion addressable market in the US alone.

“This private and public edge compute and a business stack that transforms the way we work.”

It’s not just industrial companies that are experiencing the benefits, Erwin adds. BlackRock has deployed a private 5G network in its New York offices that has changed how it serves customers and partners, with the technology allowing them to be faster and more effective.

The ending of lockdowns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a return to work of many organisations – but this isn’t the only reason that 5G private networks have become more popular.

“Yes, companies expect people to start returning to work, but they are also looking to how they can deploy 21st century technologies like broadband, mobile and cloud – and private networks complement that,” Erwin says.

Private networks will usher in a shake-up in the industry in that the telco no longer expects to run the entire stack. “We are brighter and smarter, realising we can’t provide everything,” Erwin says. “But, also, the world is moving so much faster than ever, so companies are accelerating transformation and reimagining everything about their businesses.”

Masum Mir, vice-president and GM: cable, mobility and IoT at Cisco, stresses that the future of work cannot be exclusive, but must embrace both office and front-line workers wherever they are.

“Imagine if we could create a common playing field for office and front line workers,” he says. “When we think about private networks, we need to think about what will drive value.

“We believe future technologies need to bring people, things and space together.”

Mir believes that the current technologies like 5G will continue to be used by enterprises, but that 5G and private 5G will augment these systems that will allow organisations to digitalise quicker.

“This is an opportunity for service providers to create high-value managed services,” he says.

Cisco will augment existing access technologies with 5G for simple, in intuitive and trusted networks that offers much better cover for more and low-latency applications.

“They offer an opportunity for private and public networks to roam seamlessly, to bring simplicity to enterprises, and for service provider sto participate in the managed services journey.”

Jane Rygaard, head of dedicated wireless networking at Nokia, believes that the most rewarding use case for private 5G networks is currency in the industrial space.

“Industry 4.0 requires agility to address a changing world: we don’t get this unless we go digital.

“For industrial organisations that want to get to a different place, and realise the benefits, they have to become digital in a physical world.”

The new networks need to be resilient and agile, with sustainability that goes beyond energy-efficiency, Rygaard adds.

The first step is to gain a realtime digital view of the organisation’s physical assets, and then control these assets using digital connectivity.

There are huge opportunities: Rygaard says about 70% of industrial assets are yet to be connected.

“The key is reliable wireless, with these networks offering value including production, efficiencies and business processes. It is about being agile enough so that whatever change organisations encounter they have the right solutions in place.”