SCF Report Shows Small Cells Hold the Key to Unlocking Private Cellular Network Opportunity
Small Cell Forum (SCF) published its analysis of the burgeoning market for small cell-based private networks, outlining market drivers, use cases and recommendations for LTE-based networks and examining their evolution to 5G. The research shares insights gained by leading deployers of how different public and private sector organizations are benefiting from robust cellular connectivity, customized to their specific applications. SCF235 Private Cellular Networks with Small Cells is available for download from the SCF website.
The comprehensive paper includes:
- SCF’s market analysis which reveals that, by 2025, the largest adopter of private networks will be local government, including networks to support public safety and smart cities
- A study of new business models created by integrators and third-party providers operating in this space that can work in partnership with MNOs—for instance, by leasing their spectrum or by enabling MNOs to provide services based on a shared network
- Data showing that when deploying private LTE today, small cells have significant cost advantages
- A discussion of the critical need for different spectrum and deployment methods being adopted around the world, such as CBRS in the U.S.
- Examination of vEPCs supporting RAN-agnostic networks, and the role of edge computing in small cell-based private networks
Private networks are custom designed for the specific needs of an organisation such as an enterprise or local government. They can provide higher quality mobile connectivity than Wi-Fi, and have a more extensive ecosystem of technology suppliers, system integrators and service providers than proprietary solutions. Cellular devices also have the capability to roam seamlessly between private and public global mobile networks.
With LTE technology, new types of spectrum and the emergence of a new breed of service providers, commercial conditions are ripe for enterprises and government to leverage small cell-based private networks for their business-critical and mission-critical connectivity needs. The paper focuses on understanding these early adopters and how they are using private networks to better achieve their organisation goals.
The research was made possible by an extended collaboration of leading private network providers, brought together by Small Cell Forum, including; AT&T, CommScope, Corning, Crown Castle, Ericsson, ExteNet Systems and Reliance Jio.
Keyur Brahmbhatt, lead author and senior product manager at ExteNet Systems said, “Private LTE networking technology is a significant opportunity for the telco sector that can be deployed today with existing technology, rather than needing to wait for 5G. It has already enabled new business models, tailored service offerings and access to new or difficult to reach verticals, and allows organisations to integrate diverse sensors, machines, people, vehicles and more across a wide range of applications and usage scenarios.”
Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, chair of Small Cell Forum, said, “This paper represents a comprehensive body of work highlighting the clear benefits Small Cells provide in deploying private cellular networks of all types, as well as providing real-world case studies of successful systems. Our future work in this area will focus on how to manage private networks, and the impact 5G will have on private network architectures and technologies. At the heart of this will be collaborations with enterprises to capture detailed requirements specific to key sectors that will benefit most.”
SCF aims to help enterprise, industry and government understand the potential benefits of private networks to support their digital connectivity needs, while helping private network service providers better understand the benefits which are most valued by the different types of customer. The paper identifies barriers to the growth of private networks and recommends industry actions to address them.