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Cost and ROI of Deploying a Private 5G Network in the UK

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As the 5G rollout continues and more enterprises capitalise on the next wave of mobile technology, private 5G networks are increasingly favoured as the preferred solution for robust connectivity. 

Beyond the hype, does the cost of a private 5G network really match its benefits? Private 5G networks are gaining popularity across vertical industries like healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, and more for a good reason. It offers ultra-low latency, fast speed, broader coverage, and higher bandwidth suitable for IoT devices, critical applications, and mission-critical processes. 

Even mid to large businesses in need of limited 5G coverage can take advantage of the cheaper indoor private 5G small cells. Here’s everything you need to know about the cost and ROI of deploying a private 5G network in the UK. 

Looking ahead, market intelligence firm SNS forecasts that private 5G networks will exceed $6.4bn or over £5m in revenue. Some influencing factors, such as competing tech, spectrum availability, and enterprise skill sets, have a role in determining whether the market will surpass industry expectations.

Enterprise RAN systems for indoor mobile connectivity are fairly common, and 5G private networks are starting to be implemented in buildings, offices, and corporate areas. On a national scale, many countries are proactively granting and releasing access to local and shared area licensed spectrum, encouraging a conducive environment for private 5G deployment. Countries like the UK, Germany, and France are on this table. 

Here are several case studies that showcase the versatility and ROI of the private 5G network:

1. Manufacturing industry

About 93 manufacturing businesses publicly announced they installed private 5G in the first half of 2023. As the so-called smart factories continue to be popular, more companies in the manufacturing space are expected to join the bandwagon. Private 5G enables connectivity for automated guided industrial plants and vehicles. 

For instance, a 250,000 sq. ft. manufacturing factory will need only 20 5G radios for reliable connectivity, compared to about 50-80 access points required by other technologies. The private 5G radios are more expensive at face value. But, using fewer radios reduces the hardware costs, maintenance costs, and labour costs, so you end up saving more in the long run.

 2. Transport and logistics industry

Transport and logistics enterprises use private 5G networks to provide a robust “always-on” connectivity for airports, railways, ports, and logistic warehouses. Thanks to the private 5G network’s high bandwidth and low latency, these businesses rely on fast connections for smooth operations. 

3. Entertainment and retail

With 21 private 5G network announcements, entertainment and retail industries are not left out. The network covers shopping centres, stadiums, and similar venues and allows visitors and staff members to enjoy high Internet speed and perfect connectivity.

4. Other industries

Other industries adopting private 5G networks at scale include education, healthcare, mining, oil and gas, utility, etc. In addition, the idea of a smart city enables city leaders to integrate ICT on a large scale, connect various devices to the Internet of Things, and optimise city operations in real time. For example, London is already in the lead as the number one smart city in Europe by the number of its 5G infrastructure.

For more insights, read on our article on how private 5G can revolutionise commercial and industrial environments.

Understanding the Return on Investment (ROI) of a Private 5G Network: Is it Worth It?

On a cost-benefit scale, many enterprise executives and project managers are wondering whether investing in a private 5G network is a worthy endeavour. Some enthralling reasons why big tech is adamantly making a case for private 5G networks are listed below:

1. Speedy and reliable connectivity

If your enterprise can’t sacrifice speed and response time, then a custom private 5G network is a cost-effective solution. 

2. 5G coverage in remote areas

With factories located in remote locations where public networks are grossly unstable, deploying a private 5G network makes so much sense and is efficient. 

3. Low latency 

All available facts and figures point out that a private 5G network cost is cheap when compared with its capabilities. Take its ultra-low latency feature, which makes it ideal for apps that demand swift, automated, and real-time data transfer. This brings the idea of remote surgeries and autonomous vehicles to life. 

4. Highly secured

The private 5G network is inaccessible to the public, reducing the risk of cyberattacks to a bare minimum. Rick Fulwiler, a cybersecurity expert, reports that he couldn’t hack his way into a private 5G network like he can with networks in the public domain. 

5. Easy to customise

A private 5G network gives commercial businesses a chance to be in charge of their network infrastructure, quality, security, and expenses. This makes room for customisation based on security needs. In fact, it’s possible to even install a private 5G network on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. 

What is the Cost of a Private 5G Network Deployment?

The cost of private 5G network deployment varies and depends on the wireless company, project size, number of access points, factory type, etc. Celona’s pricing starts from £17,000 for an indoor access point and $57,500 for its outdoor equivalent. If we take Nokia, with its wider reach, it will be more expensive. But even then, the actual cost to deploy a private 5G network for your business will depend on: 

1. Project size 

The bigger the size of a facility for private 5G coverage, the higher the cost. Influencing factors here include number of access points needed, spectrum licensing, specific hardware, labour costs, security protocols, etc. 

2. Preferred subscription type

Both Nokia and Celona offer different pricing structures. For instance, Celona’s private 5G network is available as a single software-as-a-service, with three- and five-year subscription options. Speak with a licensed Nokia and Celona channel partner at UCtel for expert guidance on the best option for you.  

3. 5G network type

The cost to install a private 5G network also depends on the network type. Private 5G small cells are a cheaper option for small-to-mid businesses, as well as in-building coverage. Also, frequency bandwidth influences private 5G’s total cost of ownership (TCO).

Overall, we recommend consulting with a private 5G signal expert like UCtel for unbiased advice and installation guidance on how the pricing for building private 5G networks works and the best solution for your business needs. Also, we can walk you through the stages of private 5G network deployment, including business engagement > test plan development > network design > shipping and installation > validation to test plan and training. 

Consider UCtel’s Expertise in Building Private 5G Networks

UCtel is one of the leading private 5G network providers in the UK. As Celona and Nokia partners, we are pros in deploying highly efficient private 5G networks for businesses of different sizes. We’ll inspect your business location, diagnose your coverage problems, and install the best dedicated 5G wireless option within your budget. Contact us now, let’s calculate your total cost of ownership.

Wrap Up

With the increasing rate of private 5G network adoption among vertical industries, one may wonder if the cost vs value makes a match. At this point, you already know that the answer is a resounding yes! However, before deploying a private 5G, it’s best to get a true cost estimate and expected return on investment based on your business realities.


Find answer below or contact us to ask more about UCtel

Why do businesses in the UK need to invest in private 5G networks?

Because of its ultra-fast, reliable, safe, and secure coverage, 5G is the top choice for many industries. It’s especially beneficial for large-scale businesses and commercial estates.

What is the actual cost of private 5G network deployment?

The actual cost of deploying a 5G network varies from one business to another and depends on factors like your project scope and operator type. Speak with an expert at 0333 344 4417 for a custom TCO.

What is the typical timeline for deploying a private 5G network for a business?

Several factors can influence the timeframe from planning 5G network installation to its actual deployment. Those factors are:

  • The size of your premises;
  • Complexity and network design;
  • Training period;
  • Budget constraints;
  • The partner you choose.

Contact the team to discover how UCtel can improve your digital connectivity and communications.

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