The enterprise market is growing eager for private 5G networks. Verizon aims to cater to that business...
Private networks are becoming one of the biggest growth sectors in the global telecommunications market, a trend confirmed by the results of the recently concluded auction for private licenses to 3.5 GHz airwaves. Verizon, Comcast and Dish Networks got most of the spectrum (and the headlines), but as significant was the number of small groups and non-traditional network operators who gained surprisingly large chunks of the vital resource. They will be using the spectrum to build their own 4G LTE and 5G capable networks.
We are likely to see a variety of novel business models emerging to take advantage of the opportunities. Some of these are likely to disrupt yet grow the market, but in many cases impact the ambitions of the established telcos.
But another route for growth in private and enterprise networks is just around the corner with new entrants -– and of course some established operators, too — ready to deploy networks taking advantage of the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for 4G LTE and 5G.
But this time, the focus will be on indoor networks.
Last week Verizon said it would follow that path aggressively, in collaboration with Corning and Samsung Electronics Americas. The operator, of course, is one of the few in the US that has invested in and offers a functional and commercial mm Wave network — albeit focusing on high-traffic locations such as stadiums, which unfortunately are closed off to the potential user base.
The three companies announced they had completed successful trials to test the technology in ‘in-building’ set-ups. Verizon said the indoor cell-sites will not only extend the footprint of its “5G Ultra Wideband” networks, but offer the possibility of private networks with mobile edge computing (MEC) capabilities.
In an upbeat statement, Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s senior vice president of technology planning and development, said “an indoor cell site brings the benefits of mm Wave 5G — high throughput, great capacity, high reliability and the ability for a large number of users to simultaneously use robust data applications — indoors where it may be more difficult for signals from our outside 5G network to penetrate.”
Such indoor systems are seen as a critical step on the way to more sophisticated private 5G networks.
The most robust, lowest-latency, highest-performing private 5G network relies on three basic components: a private core serving exclusively that single system; a radio access network (basically an indoor cell site); and the MEC platform, Koeppe expanded.
“By combining a private core, an indoor cell site and the MEC platform in a facility, an enterprise can have a private and secure ultra-reliable, high-speed, low-latency 5G network,” Koeppe said, adding such a set-up will have the additional potential for users to have the cloud within their facility.
Previous generations of Verizon’s “5G Ultra Wideband” network could not offer indoor coverage since high-bandwidth mmWave signals are easily blocked.
Verizon said it chose to work with Corning’s mmWave solution and Samsung’s indoor cell sites following an industry-wide request for proposals (RFP), and the initial tests were carried out at its Westlake, Texas, laboratories.
The company would not say which other companies had submitted proposals.
The trio plan to target hospitals, factories, warehouses, ports and shopping malls.
Corning, a major and long-time player in indoor wireless, unveiled its indoor 5G mm Wave system earlier this year. It relies on Qualcomm’s 5G small cell chip sets and software, its 5G RAN platform and virtualized RAN architecture.
The optical communications specialist’s 5G portfolio also includes systems that support sub-6GHz bands that use Intel chipsets.
The complete systems targeting the enterprise and private network sectors use composite fiber that incorporates both fiber for data transmission and copper for power in a single cable.
Samsung says its 5G mmWave indoor small cell sites have been shown in numerous trials to provide the high-throughput and lower latency demanded by Verizon’s in-building 5G-capable service requirements.
One of Samsung’s toughest competitors for such small, indoor cell-sites is Nokia, which expanded its line–up for private network deployments earlier this year.
The three companies involved stressed they have made the design as simple as possible so as to make installation and commissioning as easy as possible.