How to Build a Private 5G Network for Business
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For any modern enterprise, staying abreast of recent technological advancements is the necessary condition of mere survival, to say nothing of sustainable growth and expansion. In the realm of the connection between workers and departments, it means replacing outdated equipment with more advanced systems. One such step can be integrating private 5G networks to benefit from the latest advancements in communication and internet speed. Let’s find out some basic facts about this technology, the perks businesses obtain when they embrace private 5G, and the peculiarities of how to build a 5G private network.
What is a 5G Private Network?
A 5G private network is a kind of mobile local area network (LAN) owned and run by a separate company, which is designed to cover its needs by providing a reliable connection medium.
Private mobile networks are nothing new for the business world of the 21st century. However, until recently, they were mostly employed by companies whose sphere of activity required security-driven independence from public facilities combined with maximum efficiency (for instance, military or critical infrastructure organisations). But right now, given private networks' excellent performance and productivity, many modern ventures opt for such systems for their internal purposes.
When it comes to setting up a private network, you should harness the latest innovation in this domain. To stay on the cutting edge of technological progress, many businesses embrace private 5G that increasingly ousts LTE-powered LANs and Wi-Fi systems. They are second-to-none instruments for supporting specific app types, IoT devices, and organisational workstations.
What benefits do you get when you decide to build your own 5G network?
Why Choose a 5G Private Network instead of a Wi-Fi Network
The global market for private 5G networks is probably the most rapidly growing, with an astounding CAGR of almost 41%. Definitely, organisations obtain weighty benefits when they build a 5G private network. Namely, those are:
This is one of the top considerations making companies prefer private networks over public. Being designed to order, such networks can implement any level of security their owner needs (for instance, limitation on the devices that can be connected to it).
Unlike standard Wi-Fi networks, private 5G systems are much less likely to experience external interference, enabling users to collect and transfer data accurately and swiftly.
The spotty Wi-Fi connection symptomatic of a crowded office with numerous devices eating up the bandwidth will become a thing of the past when you build a private network of 5G. It will support a large number of endpoints, whether indoors or outdoors, even in remote areas where classical internet connection is intermittent.
Since it is your own network, you can regulate its functioning in the way you like. You can choose employees who will access it or the type of traffic it utilises, create a custom profile for each stakeholder, etc.
Once set up, a private 5G network doesn’t have to stay in one place, like it happens with Wi-Fi. If the organisation changes its location, the private network can move with its users to the new premises.
5G is famous for its minimal latency — one-thousandth of a second, which is 15 times less than 4G radio transmission. And in private 5G networks, the signal can travel even faster, thanks to the local processing capabilities. Such a characteristic makes these networks the only option for the use cases where ultra-low latency is mission-critical (autonomous vehicles and other mechanisms, X-ray equipment, etc.).
All these perks come from the peculiar architecture 5G networks rely on.
Private 5G Network Architecture
Before you find out how to build a private 5G network, you should understand its architecture. There are three basic elements a 5G private network consists of:
User Equipment (UE)
These are gadgets of different kinds (smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras, IoT gizmos, etc.) that are bound together by the network and are used by employees in their shop floor operations. To identify user equipment, 5G networks utilise SIM or eSIM.
Also known as cell towers, these structures connect the devices described above to a central hub by transmitting and receiving radio signals. Due to the fibre-optic wires they rely on, and the advanced technologies they leverage (such as multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), beamforming, power amplifier, and millimetre wave frequency), base stations provide the quality of 5G connection users enjoy so much.
The task of this intelligent router is to direct and manage all network traffic, provide its security via performing UE authentication, and ensure communication between all network elements.
All these components can be arranged differently when you deploy a private 5G network.
Types of 5G Networks
There are three basic patterns of a 5G network’s organisation.
Dedicated Secure 5G Network
As can be guessed from the name, such systems are totally isolated from any public network, which adds a point to their security.
Also, the owner completely controls the network, making this model especially attractive for public safety bodies (like rescue teams) and large organisations with exclusive data privacy concerns. The downside of this architecture type is the high cost of its setup and maintenance, as well as the necessary high level of the personnel’s expertise.
Multi-Tenant 5G Network
In this hybrid model, the network shares some public infrastructure to reduce upkeep expenditures. The user is free to choose which and how many components they will manage privately, and what they will entrust to the operator to handle.
This choice is conditioned by the nature of the enterprise. Smart factories will benefit from dealing with multi-access edge computing (MEC) and user plane functioning (UPF) locally, whereas, say, sports facilities or exhibition centres with a vital need for prompt and stable connection should leave a radio access network (RAN) on premises.
5G Network Slicing
This approach prioritises cost saving over network control. Here, some part (slice) of the mobile operator's available infrastructure is isolated, and a set of privately determined rules is applied to it.
In this way, you can ensure the security of the slice and identify the traffic you will consume. Such an arrangement works well for projects involving large-area deployments, such as autonomous driving services or smart city IoT environments.
When you know what 5G network type suits your use case to a tee, you should get to building one hammer and tongs.
How to Set up a Private 5G Network for a Business
As a long-time expert in the field with dozens of completed projects under our belt, we at UCtel know what roadmap should be followed in creating a private 5G network.
Step 1. Make a plan
You can never build a private 5G network of your dreams until you realise what problem you want to solve with it. So, you should start with defining its use cases and determining the KPIs of launching it.
Step 2. Conduct a site survey
After creating a strategy, you should study the lay of the land, that is, look at the place where you will implement the project. It will allow you to identify the coverage area, the equipment required to support it, the power it will consume, the best locations to place it, and possible obstructions to transmitting signals. The major deliverable of this phase is the bill of materials with the indication of the cost of infrastructure elements (access points, cable or fibre, etc.) you will have to cover.
Step 3. Installation and post-deployment verification
Finally, you can acquire the items on your list and deploy them. When everything is in its place, you must make sure the cellular access points transmit signals according to the expectations. If they don’t, relocate them or add new ones to obtain the optimal speed, capacity, and coverage for the end devices. Also, compare the resulting KPIs against the intended ones to see whether the outcome dovetails into the established requirements.
However, even after a successful check, you can’t launch your 5G private network before you receive a frequency to use it via a licensing procedure.
In the UK, you must receive a licence from the Office of Communications to run any network. There are two types of permits in this sector, and 5G network owners across numerous industries typically go for the Shared Access licence. It grants access to four spectrum bands supporting mobile technology. These bands range from 1,800MHz to 26GHz with different propagation capabilities, which are better for lower frequencies. The Shared Access Licence comes in two versions:
- Lower Power Licence authorises users to place an endless number of base stations anywhere (and move them around at their discretion) within the circle having a 50-meter radius. If they need bigger coverage, they will have to apply for more licences of this type.
- Medium Power Licence is meant for an extended transmission range (and thus perfect for rural areas), allowing for one base station, which isn’t supposed to change its location once deployed.
No matter what version you opt for, the pricing policy is the same since the fees are conditioned by the bandwidth for the three lower spectrum bands (between 1,800MHz and 4.2GHz). Annual payments range from £80 for the minimal 3.3MHz frequency to ten times the sum for 100MHz. For the highest frequency band (26GHz), the fixed sum is £320, irrespective of the amount of bandwidth used.
Also, there are numerous minute licensing details you should pay attention to, like granting Ofcom representatives access to your equipment, providing the officials with various relevant information (e.g., address, antenna type and height, or number of terminals), etc. That is why you should study licence terms carefully so as not to have it revoked.
Install a Private 5G Network with UCtel
As you see, setting up and launching a private 5G network is a no-nonsense task that should be entrusted only to vetted professionals in the niche. The experts of UCtel have the necessary skills and expertise to handle the creation of a private 5G network of any type, architecture, and coverage that will cater to all business needs your company has in the field of communication. Contact us to give your business a powerful boost with the latest technology Industry 4.0 has ushered in.
A 5G private network is a mobile communication environment that functions separately from similar public facilities and caters to the needs of a particular organisation. Thanks to its security, reliability, mobility, low latency, and stable coverage, the 5G private network can become indispensable for modern businesses with big-time aspirations. No matter what architecture or type of private network you choose to satisfy your company’s requirements, its setup should be delegated to seasoned professionals in the field.