The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) confirmed that it is tracking at least 330 companies that have been or are investing in private mobile networks based in LTE or 5G, in the form of trials and pilot deployments, commercial network launches or investment in licenses that would enable deployment of private LTE or 5G networks. GSA data also reveals a global picture where LTE is used in 81 percent of the catalogued private mobile network deployments, with 5G currently being deployed (or planned for deployment) in over a quarter of all catalogued networks.
Against a backdrop of an overall global market where a significant number of deployments go unannounced, GSA has detailed over 150 of these deployments to provide an invaluable and unique mobile industry resource on the role LTE and 5G is playing in private networks across a wide range of industry verticals. GSA data reveals that two-thirds of the private network deployments are local area networks (single sites and campuses), with the manufacturing sector leading the way as an early adopter with over 30 known pilots or deployments identified. The data also suggests that Utilities, Police/Security/Public Safety and Rail are the biggest users of wide area private mobile networks.
Whatever the approach to deployment, an organisation cannot operate a private LTE or 5G network without access to sufficient and appropriate spectrum. While many countries have allocated dedicated frequency ranges for the operation of utility or emergency service networks, the growth in demand for networks to support IoT, smart city, mission critical, government and Industry 4.0 applications has seen regulators increasingly set aside much more spectrum, either on a dedicated or shared basis, for local area private mobile networks and for wide area private mobile networks for smart city applications. Private mobile networks based on LTE or 5G can be deployed in licensed, licensed (sub-leased), shared or unlicensed spectrum. Both LTE and 5G have development paths that have or will encompass all three options.
The new GSA report Private Mobile Networks—market status update includes insights on the types of organisations and sectors deploying private LTE and 5G networks, spectrum approaches being adopted by regulators around the world and countries’ national spectrum plans for local private mobile networks.
Joe Barrett, president of GSA, commented, “Regulators are being increasingly innovative in their spectrum strategies for both 4G and 5G, whether that’s OFCOM adopting a shared spectrum access approach for 4G or BNetzA awarding over 70 licenses to public and private sector applicants to build 5G campus networks. This increasing access to spectrum is matched by a growing number of pilots and deployments of private networks across a whole range of sectors.
“The private mobile networks market is home to a wide range of service providers, including vendors, mobile network operators, systems integrators and the private network end users—all of which GSA is now tracking. For example, while some enterprises are taking responsibility for installing or operating their own infrastructure, our research team identified 41 public mobile network operators involved in projects, so it is clear not all private networks are breaking ties with existing mobile services providers.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to being a single source of information for the global mobile ecosystem, GSA is staging a webinar on Private Networks on Thursday 29 October at 15:00 (U.K.), during which GSA will share key takeaways from the latest report.
It should be noted that while GSA is tracking over 330 companies, even this figure is likely to be a substantial underestimate of the overall global market as a vast amount of deployment goes unannounced. This figure also excludes the 200+ companies holding CBRS PAL licenses in the U.S. (except those known to be undertaking private rather than public mobile network projects using the spectrum), and more than 150 local spectrum licenses in Netherlands that are due to expire in the next couple of years and are the subject of spectrum restructuring plans.