What does a connected enterprise look like? It could be a manufacturing plant with a fully automated production line. It could be a warehouse with robotic picking technologies. It could be a container port with autonomous inventory checks. Assets and infrastructure are connected, with data exchanged continuously from machine to machine (M2M) and from machines to the networks controlling the site. This is all possible thanks to a site-wide private network.
Private networks bring a number of benefits to enterprises. However, the success of a connected enterprise depends on uninterrupted global connectivity and mobility of assets. A component produced in a factory, for example, must remain connected as it’s transported away from the factory site and shipped to another warehouse or end-user, anywhere in the world. There are also regulatory challenges which must be overcome in order for deployments to maintain momentum.
Fortunately, regulations are catching up with the demand for quick, easy, global roaming connectivity. With SIM for Things, BICS is helping to deliver this seamless connectivity. SIM for Things enables that critical link between a private network used by an enterprise, and hundreds of global networks across the world. Below, we take a look at who is driving private network development and how SIM for Things can help overcome a key private network challenge.
Private network deployments: where are we now?
As of January, over 500 companies have been investing in LTE and 5G private networks. This includes initial trials, licenses, right through to commercial network launches.
Separate from public networks, private networks are secure, offer enterprises greater control, and deliver targeted high-capacity coverage. Private network deployments will be found in IIoT settings, as well as in self-contained environments such as hospitals, university campuses, leisure complexes, airports and transport hubs.
The benefits to enterprises are clear. Data can be analyzed, processes optimized, efficiencies realized, and waste reduced. Value will also be realized across the mobile ecosystem. The global private LTE and 5G equipment and services market is expected to grow at around 20% CAGR to about $10 billion in 2025.
Challenges of private network deployment
What’s getting in the way of this value being realized? First: regulation. There are currently debates in regions across the world in terms of whether to reserve 5G spectrum for certain verticals – such as manufacturers wanting certain bands for private networks. The competition for spectrum and demand from verticals must be balanced with the need to provide operators with spectrum for consumer 5G.
We are seeing progress on this front, however. In the United States, for instance, the FCC licenses part of the CBRS (Citizen Broadband Radio Service) band to businesses at reduced rate than that traditionally paid by operators for other bands of wireless spectrum. In Germany, meanwhile, regulator BNetzA has reserved 5G spectrum for private companies: the likes of Bosch, BMW, Siemens and Volkswagen have already bought licenses.
Other European countries are taking similar approaches. It’s only a matter of time before access to spectrum is opened up to private companies on a global scale, through cost-reduction and legislation changes.
A second challenge is one that LTE solutions providers have more control over. For a truly connected enterprise, seamless connectivity must be guaranteed from within a connected site to the region, country and world outside it. This presents a challenge for the enterprise, as the asset is leaving the private network, to join a public network. Either the SIM card which provides connectivity in the asset must be changed to provide dedicated coverage, which is unworkable, or the asset must contain multiple SIMs. This naturally adds complexity and cost.
With SIM for Things, BICS has the solution.
SIM for Things for private networks – and beyond
BICS’ SIM for Things offers single-SIM access to and between a private network and national and international public networks. It offers seamless roaming across these networks in 500 destinations. This means that assets in a manufacturing plant, for example, will be connected when on the site and will remain connected as they’re transported across the world.
Our global network offers unrivaled reach and security. This allows enterprises to launch and sustain a worldwide connected business, integrating with their own private networks. We’re making this accessible to businesses across numerous sectors. We can package this into a single solution, which our private network specialist customers can in turn offer to their customers in vertical sectors.
From the micro (SIM for Things as a small component) to the macro (our infrastructure network and partner network), we’re helping to accelerate the deployment of private LTE networks and provide critical links in the IoT ecosystem.