5G private networks make it possible to do business everywhere

The manufacturing industry is exploring 5G technology at an accelerated pace, largely to enable AI-based use cases such as closed loop manufacturing, adaptive manufacturing, predictive analytics for extended reality (XR)-based maintenance and worker training and safety, says Jagadeesh Dantuluri, general manager of private and dedicated networks at Keysight Technologies. “It’s not a static assembly line performing the same action over and over again, but one that can change based on their needs,” he says. “Private networks are essentially enabling new business models in manufacturing.”

Yet the benefits of 5G private networks extend beyond manufacturing. As the technology offers more reliable connectivity, faster data rates and lower latency, as well as greater network scalability, security and control than previous communication technologies, 5G private networks will boost innovations in many industrial and business sectors.

The benefits of 5G private networks

A private cellular network is built on standards defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) (such as LTE or 5G), but it provides dedicated on-site coverage. This is important for remote installations where public networks do not exist, or where indoor coverage is not robust. A private network also makes exclusive use of available capacity; there is no conflict from other network users, like on a public network. Private operators can also deploy their own security policies to authorize users, prioritize traffic and, most importantly, ensure that sensitive data does not leave the premises without authorization.

The dedicated nature of 5G private networks combined with personalized service, intrinsic control and URLLC capabilities provides more reliable industrial wireless communication for a wide variety of use cases, says Dantuluri. and process automation, and AI-based production and augmented reality/virtual reality-based design for onsite and remote workers,” he explains. “Additionally, low-cost connectivity allows sensors to be easily deployed in a wider variety of scenarios, enabling companies to build innovative applications and collect real-time data.”

The industrial sector is heading towards a massive digital transformation, and the integration of information technology (IT) systems with operational technology (OT) systems will accelerate this process. Digital technologies will also enable many new use cases, such as automated manufacturing.

A 5G private network allows a facility to sync and integrate tracking data into its workflow, allowing production lines to be set up in real time, Dantuluri says. “Because assembly lines and factory infrastructure, such as robotic arms, autonomous mobile robots (AMR), autonomous guided vehicles (AGV) and sensors, are connected wirelessly, the configuration or moving assembly items on demand is much easier. This use case requires high-reliability, low-latency wireless connectivity and coverage, as well as potentially high data rates in the uplink and downlink, and perhaps support for Time sensitive networks (TSN) in the future. This use case application can only be realized with private 5G networks.

Outside the industrial sector, private 5G networks enable mobile applications of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), allowing, for example, engineers to view superimposed plans, soldiers to have heads-up displays and businesses to have virtual meetings. in the field or remotely. “If a machine needs fixing and a technician or factory worker has AR glasses, they can have technical information overlaid on the real-world device to see what’s wrong,” Dantuluri says. “And the data center can send instructions on how to make the repairs, step by step.”

As enterprises realize the benefits of ubiquitous, low-latency, high-bandwidth, and secure connectivity, applications for 5G private networks will expand. By the end of 2024, analysts expect investment in private 5G networks to total tens of billions of dollars. A separate analysis from the research arm of investment firm JP Morgan predicts that the global business opportunity for 5G exceed $700 billion by 2030.

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