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Mobile Private Networks/Private Wireless offer superior capabilities but costs will limit demand

OCT 10, 2022
 
region: ALL sector: ALL Internet of ThingsHyperconnectivity

New report from industry analyst firm Transforma Insights finds that the enthusiasm for the Mobile Private Network/Private Wireless opportunity needs a reality check. While the capabilities are invaluable for some use cases, high costs will mean that most organisations will opt for cheaper alternatives.

Transforma Insights has today published its report ‘Mobile private network (MPN) state of the union’, which analyses the current state of play and opportunities associated with dedicated non-public cellular 4G and 5G networks.

Demonstrable advantages to private 4G and 5G

According to the report, the use of 4G and 5G technologies deliver demonstrable benefits compared to alternative technologies – such as Wi-Fi 6 – in terms of performance, greater reliability, coverage, flexibility of deployment, and security, as well as being better able to support moving devices, voice services and integration with wide area connectivity. The use of 5G provides even greater advantages, in the form particularly of ultra-reliable, low latency communication.

Price remains a significant barrier

However, the report also acts as a reality check. The cost of deploying cellular networks is very high. It is typically of the order of ten times as expensive to use cellular technologies versus alternatives. And that premium is even greater when it comes to 5G devices.

Speaking about the findings report author Matt Hatton said: “The functionality delivered by 4G, and particularly 5G, technologies is very useful indeed for certain deployment scenarios. If the customer needs guarantees over certain levels of coverage, capacity, reliability, security and latency, amongst other things, then cellular networks will be a great option. But the fact is that it’s an expensive option, meaning that deployments will only happen where there is an absolute demonstrable and economically valid requirement for those capabilities. In most cases we think other alternatives will do the job.

Expectations of 22,000 deployments by 2030

Today, despite talks of thousands of MPN deployments around the world, the reality is that there are between 1,000 and 1,500 deployments. The future trajectory, according to the report is for somewhere around 22,000 MPNs deployed globally by 2030 depending on which of three scenarios plays out.

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Most implementations today are focused on asset intensive sectors, specifically mining/oil & gas, manufacturing, and utilities. Despite much of the marketing around MPN being focused on 5G, the reality is that the vast majority (over 80%) are 4G.

Alternatives to dedicated 4G and 5G are immature

The report also examines alternative mechanisms for delivering private (or really pseudo-private) cellular connectivity without deploying full dedicated private networks. These are defined by the 3GPP as Public Network Integrated Non-Public Network (PNI-NPN). These include network slicing and hybrid options involving dedicated infrastructure but maintaining the control plane function with the public network. The report finds that the capacity to deliver these options is virtually non-existent today and hampered by operational and commercial challenges.

About the report

Mobile Private Networks, alternatively variously described as Private Wireless or Private Mobile Networks, is one of the hottest topics in telecoms and IoT currently. Transforma Insights’ newly released report ‘Mobile private network (MPN) state of the union’ looks at the current status and future prospects for MPNs.

The focus of the report is on dedicated standalone cellular-based (i.e. 3GPP technologies) non-public networks (NPNs) used exclusively by one organisation (although with the potential to grant access to third parties) in a specific geographical location. For completeness, the report also considers other alternatives to dedicated cellular networks, including non-cellular technologies and the use of public cellular networks.

The report starts by examining the various types of MPNs and alternatives to them, including dedicated 4G/LTE, dedicated 5G, dedicated mMTC, non-cellular technologies (e.g. Wi-Fi), network slices and private wide area networks. The second section looks at current status of deployments and likely prognosis. Today there are 1,000-1,500 cellular-based MPN deployments worldwide. We consider some likely evolution scenarios, which see between 10,000 and 40,000 deployed by 2030. The final section considers the all-important question of economics. With typical costs of around USD500,000 per installation, but with variants down to USD100,000 and up to many tens of millions, how do cellular MPNs stack up against the alternatives and are they worth the premium?

If you have questions concerning the methodology, either general or specific to a particular application or vertical sector, don’t hesitate to contact our analysts via enquiries@transformainsights.com.

Check out the replay of our recent webinar

On the 26th September, ahead of the release of the report, Transforma Insights ran a webinar entitled ‘A marriage made on the campus? Developments in 5G and private networks and how they come together’. Many of the themes covered related to the coverage areas of the report. The replay is available for free to subscribers to the Transforma Insights ‘Essential’ subscription.

The webinar included the following:

  • What is the current state of 5G for IoT? What are the capabilities that may be useful for IoT and what are some of latest developments, including in non-public networks (NPN) and 5G RedCap?
  • Setting the scene: What is an MPN, what does it do, what architectures are included under the MPN umbrella (including network slices and dedicated networks), what are the advantages of using 5G (and/or 4G), and what are the competing technologies and approaches?
  • ‘State of the Union’: What is the status of MPN deployments today, looking at which geographies and verticals are seeing the biggest adoption, as well as which we expect to be the dominant ones in the future.
  • The economics of MPN: How much does it cost, what are the dependencies and how does that stack up against competing alternatives, including consideration of devices, network infrastructure and spectrum?
  • Winners and losers: The competitive landscape, including assessment of which of the numerous players that are currently fixated on the MPN opportunity will be the likely winners.

About Transforma Insights

Transforma Insights is a leading research firm focused on the world of Digital Transformation (DX). Led by seasoned technology industry analysts we provide advice, recommendations and decision support tools for organisations seeking to understand how new technologies will change the markets in which they operate.

For more information about Transforma Insights, please see our website transformainsights.com or contact us at enquiries@transformainsights.com. Follow us on Twitter: @transformatweet.

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