The power of private 5G wireless networks for UK businesses

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The growth in 5G usage for businesses in the UK is growing exponentially. Private 5G networks are predicted to grow at an average rate of 40% a year between 2021 and 2028, by which time the market will be worth over £10bn. And this growth extends beyond the UK, as 5G networks are now being delivered by at least 209 operators in 83 countries.

For those businesses that have adopted them, private 5G wireless networks are changing the connectivity game. Greater control and security, ease of use, more consistent coverage, and boosted worker productivity are just some of the benefits that private wireless networks offer, as well as enabling exciting new capabilities like augmented reality, machine learning, autonomous processes, and precision robotics.

The rise of 5G

While traditional Wi-Fi relies on external service providers, private networks are built on spectrum frequencies which are leased from a carrier or from another spectrum owner, such as a government. Many countries are making efforts to increase availability of these spectrum frequencies.

Private networks therefore give organisations more control and independence from their telecom service provider, as the business decides what and who can connect to the network. As well as a greater sense of control, private networks are a more cost-effective solution, as the total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower than a traditional wireless network. This allows businesses to remain agile and more efficiently reallocate budget for vital operational costs.

One of the major benefits of private 5G networks is that they allow businesses to apply more advanced security measures, such as SIM-based authentication methods and strong air interface ciphering. With licensed spectrum and embedded security standards, private 5G makes it easier for organisations to control their systems, monitor any malicious interference, and allocate security roles to devices and users.

As well as lowering costs and boosting security, the efficiency and visibility that private 5G networks offer helps organisations to lower emissions by better managing operational processes, supporting compliance with any sustainability regulations. Two thirds of UK businesses believe that 5G will make a positive contribution to their corporate sustainability efforts, in addition to improving customer experience.

Private wireless networks for Industry 4.0 and beyond

The industrial sector is one of the earliest and most consistent adopters of private 5G wireless networks – more than 90% of private networks in the manufacturing sector expect to use 5G by 2027. One of 5G’s biggest selling points for Industry 4.0 is that private networks help solve the problem of connectivity black in areas like factory floors and warehouses. Having network connectivity that is unaffected by interference, physical obstruction, and distance is vital for industrial organisations, with technologies like edge computing and cloud networking often implemented alongside to fully capture its capabilities.

Multinational material science company Dow Chemical recently took the next step in its digital transformation journey by deploying a private network in one Texas location. With a key focus on improving interaction, collaboration, and precision, Dow Chemical wanted its operations teams to work more efficiently and safely. Working together with Kyndryl and Nokia, Dow deployed a private wireless and edge network that now enables vehicle telematics, remote audio and video collaboration, real-time smart procedures, and on-site personnel tracking.

While the manufacturing industry has been leading the adoption of 5G, organisations from every sector are starting to utilise the benefits of private networks to improve efficiencies, encourage innovation, and keep up with demand. In fact, a recent report showed that the overall market for private networks within enterprise verticals will reach $109 billion by 2030.

The future of 5G networking

While the benefits of private 5G networks are undeniable, some business leaders are concerned that adoption will require a complete digital infrastructure overhaul or trigger operational disruption. To ensure that customer data is adequately secured, businesses need to consider a hybrid approach to connectivity, picking and choosing the technologies that work best for them. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to 5G connectivity, so all enterprises need a partner who understands the spectrum they’re going to deploy and how to secure it, mitigating any knowledge gaps.

Looking to the future, private wireless networks will continue to develop in industries beyond Industry 4.0 to sectors like transportation, healthcare, retail, logistics, and many more. With advanced wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi 6 starting to evolve, and as organisations move towards a more hybrid approach to connectivity, entire industries will see the power of private 5G networks in creating richer, personalised customer experiences and a safer, more efficient workplace.