Enterprises around the world are seeking to build their own private mobile networks as they look to connect up millions of sensors and other “Things” that are coming online.
While telecom operators are still the main customers rolling out such networks, increasingly enterprises in public safety, energy providers and mining companies want to set up a 4G network to connect their people and devices, according to equipment maker Nokia.
A first wave of non-telco customers have used private networks to communicate with railway trains or for law enforcement in the past few years. These rollouts usually replaced traditional trunk communications systems.
A second wave of is coming from the private sector seeking to hook up everything from cameras to streetlights, as part of their transformation efforts, said Chris Johnson, Nokia’s senior vice president of customer operations for vertical enterprise markets.
He pointed to automated machinery in mines that could be controlled remotely, as well as airports and sea ports seeking to have their secure and reliable wireless link for operations.
“4G provides better quality of service (QoS) than Wi-Fi and it is perfect now for the enterprise,” he told Techgoondu in a recent interview.
In Poland, for example, energy providers have sought licenses to use the frequency spectrum for private networks. In France and Germany, railways may use a special version of 4G for their operations.
Instead of seeking a connection to cater to one use – say, for trains to “talk” to one another – many enterprises see the wireless link as a foundation for future apps 10 to 15 years down the road.
Some are looking at 5G networks as well, because they can provide lower latency. This way, an operator can control a crane remotely because there is almost no lag between the time he pushes a joystick and the command reaching the machine.
One issue, however, is that many enterprises won’t know how to run a mobile network, unlike a telco. That means they need expertise to make sure the investment fits the business.
Nokia is also providing IoT analytics as well as data management to help enterprises to make sense of the data they will be collecting through this digitalisation process, said Johnson.
“We are not just selling a 5G network; we are helping to enable it,” he added.