Our industry analysts expect that more than 100 companies worldwide will be involved in private 5G planning, testing and deployments by the end of 2020, collectively investing several hundred million dollars in labor and equipment. In subsequent years, spend on private 5G installations, which may be single-site or spread across multiple locations, will climb sharply.
How can an enterprise guarantee the right level of connectivity, a low-latency and low-power one that’s super-fast, highly reliable and serving a high density of traffic? At a high level, there are two routes:
It can connect to a public network. We’ll save a conversation on that for another day.
Or it can opt for a private network, either by purchasing its own infrastructure while contracting for operational support from a mobile operator, or by building and maintaining its own network using its own spectrum. Many governments are now making spectrum available – enabling companies to deploy their own on-site or on-premises networks, such as CBRS. And some companies will opt for Wi-Fi or standard LTE.
But many industries are now turning to 5G or Private LTE networks for enhanced wireless performance and reliability. These networks are designed for mobility and guaranteed quality of service (QoS) to support a broad range of use cases. Indeed, the new 5G standards that will be used for the enterprise business segment will open up a fresh range of applications that were previously impossible to deliver. 5G will no longer just be about connectivity; it will offer ultra-reliable low latency and support much higher wireless density, as required by the massive IoT.
For many of the world’s largest businesses, private 5G will therefore likely become the preferred choice, especially for industrial environments such as manufacturing plants, logistics centers, and ports, which will require wide and seamless connectivity in multiple environments that can span indoor and outdoor settings. Being private and using dedicated infrastructure, these network offer key advantages over to public networks. These include better security and higher flexibility, which allow companies to develop low-cost customized solutions and services.
In this blog post, we review the key factors that we recommend you focus on for the efficient planning and rollout of private networks. Addressing in particular indoor-outdoor connectivity considerations, there are three key aspects of attention.
1. How to accelerate private network deployment
Deploying private networks is challenging; accommodating both indoor and outdoor networks seamlessly into your design work makes it more challenging still. This is particularly pertinent for use cases covering both environments, such as large campuses, transportation hubs or enterprise private networks, where buildings and outdoor areas need to seamlessly connected together.
One of the biggest pain points, one that can delay such design projects, is the number of site surveys that private networks often require for the collection of surrounding outdoor macro network coverage performance data. Operators can spend a lot of time on countless site surveys to collect and compile outdoor and indoor measurements to understand the in-building coverage they get from macro-sites and the impact on their in-building design.
Furthermore, these connectivity projects often involve multiple buildings and multiple floors in each building, leading to even more site survey visits.
But it doesn’t stop there. Site surveys are becoming one the most expensive and time-consuming elements of private network design, what with complications of restricted access and seeking security clearance, and this is before you throw Covid-19 into the mix.
Wireless players need faster, better ways to design private networks. The solution is to leverage radio frequency (RF) predictions with proven accuracy, providing detailed and combined simulations of the coverage performance reached in indoor and outdoor environments. By significantly reducing the number of site walks, the days spent on surveys, and negotiating with building security for clearance to do them, you can expedite your deployment.
Being able to design private networks without need for site surveys is also a critical asset for greenfield installation especially when buildings are not yet constructed .This is particularly true in future where we expect companies to create islands of private 5G adoption among other legacy connectivity technologies such as 3G/4G and Wi-Fi. Time to market will also be important when 5G private networks will be deployed for a few days to serve an event.
In our pilot projects, the impact to timelines of deployment projects was significant and praised by our customers. One completed its campus network design project almost 40% faster than they would have with traditional methodologies. For them, that represented significant cost savings and, probably more importantly, a faster private network project delivery time.
2. How to increase design productivity and slash network investments
Typically, and as an example, deploying campus networks has always been an industry challenge, particularly at the design and optimization stages. These generally involve different planning tools, vendors, teams and stakeholders all getting involved in different parts of the project, whether on in-building or macro outdoor activities.
Using traditional siloed processes and tools results in design inefficiency, tedious manual operations and planning inaccuracies that lead to poor indoor service quality, over-dimensioning and further optimization costs after the network has been launched.
There are two main ways to overcome these issues.
First, when planning a new private network, avoid duplicating your workforce across independent indoor and outdoor activities, using two separate workflows. This should increase your engineering productivity, while bringing you a greater understanding of the interaction between the two environments that you would miss when working separately.
With the emergence of 5G, a major use case and focus being campus environments, both outdoor and indoor networks must be considered. And while this could be done before, it often took many different and independent processes, different teams, and lots of time to coordinate and maneuver around the complexity of it all.
An integrated design approach enables engineers to seamlessly design private networks for typical Industry surroundings with mixed indoor and outdoor elements. It also offers engineers a unique and clear understanding of the interaction between the two environments.
Furthermore, adopting a holistic approach for the design of private networks brings cost savings to the radio infrastructure front. This is because it enables operators to accurately understand the in-building wireless coverage that customers will experience from the outdoor network, allowing them to keep dedicated infrastructure installed inside buildings to a minimum.
The second aspect comes with the automation of data transfer and planning workflows between indoor and macro planning activities, allowing operators to accelerate their network time to market, reduce optimization costs and ease network capacity upgrades.
Ultimately, this methodology equates to adopting a seamless design approach using complementary technology that brings the most mature and proven in-building and macro design solutions together. This will bridge the existing gap between indoor and outdoor considerations.
3. Secure excellent performance on 5G indoor-outdoor rollouts from Day 1
For operators, offering ubiquitous network performance is also critical in securing a faster return on 5G investment, something that’s even more crucial when it comes to private networks. Indeed, 5G can enable a range of new applications.
The ones addressing industrial environments will leverage ultra-reliable low-latency communication capabilities and/or Massive machine-type communication to support extremely high connection densities, enabling industrial-scale IoT. Both require the delivery of specific SLAs related to latency and reliability levels.
Thanks to the specifications in Release 16, completed in June this year, 5G has the potential to become the world’s predominant LAN and WAN technology over the next 10 to 20 years, especially in greenfield builds. Those building new factories, ports or campuses may significantly reduce their usage of wired connections.
To secure guaranteed quality of service at launch time, customers deploying private networks will benefit from high coverage prediction accuracy based on field-proven models for indoor and outdoor environments, 3D geodata, advanced multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) antenna modeling, and unified coverage and capacity analysis.
For mobile operators, the growth of private 5G networking can mean additional revenue. Such deployments of 5G indoor-outdoor rollouts represent an opportunity to adopt better network design practices. And these are generating long-lasting benefits in terms of quality of service and the robustness of network connectivity.
As we accelerate towards network densification, capacity challenges and the rise of private networks, we need more holistic approaches that unify and automate indoor-outdoor planning and design processes.
This is critical in order to accelerate deployment time and maximize the performance for end-users requiring wireless connectivity or specific service-level agreement.
Looking for tools to help you plan, design and deliver faster wireless networks? Take a look at Planet from Infovista.