Global Deployment of Private LTE/5G Networks
A recent report from Berg Insight, an esteemed IoT analyst firm, reveals a significant surge in the deployment of private LTE/5G networks worldwide. By the end of 2023, the total number of these networks, including trials and pilot projects, reached 2,900.
Transition from Trials to Commercial Operations
The landscape of private 5G networks is rapidly evolving from trial phases to fully operational commercial networks. Out of an estimated 700 networks, nearly half are still in the trial phase. The report forecasts a robust growth trajectory for private LTE/5G networks, expecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 percent. This growth is projected to culminate in about 11,900 networks by 2028, with a notable shift towards quicker commercial deployments and reduced need for use case testing.
Upgrading from LTE to 5G
A significant portion of private LTE network deployments is anticipated to upgrade to 5G technology within the next 2–3 years. This transition underscores the evolving telecommunications landscape and the increasing demand for more advanced network capabilities.
Definition of Private Cellular Networks
Berg Insight defines a private cellular network as a 3GPP-based system, built exclusively for the use of a private entity like an enterprise or government organization. These networks use 3GPP-defined spectrum and include infrastructure such as LTE or 5G NR base stations and small cells for voice and data transmission.
Role of Major RAN Vendors
Principal Analyst at Berg Insight, Fredrik Stalbrand, highlights the significant roles of major RAN vendors like Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei. These vendors are integral as solution providers and face competition from smaller RAN equipment providers.
Nokia’s Leading Position
As of Q2-2023, Nokia leads the market with over 635 private cellular network customers, the highest number of deployments among its competitors.
Vendor Strategies and Ecosystem Development
Stalbrand notes that vendors are increasingly adopting channel-led sales strategies and developing ecosystems involving mobile operators, system integrators, VARs, and consulting partners to market their solutions effectively.
Competitive Landscape of RAN Equipment Providers
Several small cell and RAN equipment providers, including Airspan Networks, Baicells, CommScope, JMA Wireless, Mavenir, Samsung Networks, Sercomm, and ZTE, are offering competitive LTE/5G radio products and, in some cases, complete private network solutions.
Specialized Core Network Software Vendors
Key players in specialized core network software include Druid Software, Athonet (recently acquired by HPE), and Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch (both part of Microsoft). These vendors, along with close to 30 others, provide a range of EPC/5GC offerings.
IT-Centric Players in Private Networking
Companies like Cisco and HPE focus on delivering integrated Wi-Fi and private LTE/5G solutions, enabling network managers to administer both network types through a unified interface. Celona, backed by NTT Data and Qualcomm, is a notable new entrant offering integrated private cellular solutions on a SaaS subscription model.
Future Prospects in Private LTE/5G Networks
The rapid expansion and evolving dynamics of private LTE/5G networks indicate a burgeoning market with vast potential. As the demand for advanced telecommunications solutions grows, the industry is set to witness further innovation and competition among key players.