Private networks have the ability to offer heightened security and dedicated bandwidth for many IoT use cases, but private networks can be complex and not every use case can benefit from them, and choosing the right connectivity technology and infrastructure is important.
Public networks are those owned and operated by carriers, which is likely the most familiar association with network connectivity in enterprise use. When leveraging cellular for business operations, any connected devices and routers are going to operate on a network that the organisation essentially rents from the carrier through a contract and is billed monthly.
The benefits of a public network include that it is simple to get solutions up and running quickly. The costs are typically low and there is no maintenance or upgrading required because the network is owned by a third party (the Mobile Network Operator). Coverage is wide and it can be applied across the organisation, no matter where various locations might be.
The downside to a public network is that it is a shared public network and can be more vulnerable to security such as when data privacy and security are mission critical, like with manufacturing, financial tech, healthcare, or government use cases.
Another drawback is that the organisation is dependent on the operator and they do not have much control over the physical infrastructure.
With a private network, the network is owned and operated by the organisation leveraging it and only authorised devices can connect. This allows the organisation to dedicate the network to only its applications which can help increase security, dedicate bandwidth, potentially lower latency, and can provide higher reliability since it is not a shared network.
However, building your own private networks can be expensive, complex, and require management and maintenance as it is the organisation’s responsibility and no longer a Mobile Network Operator. Mining, manufacturing, and government are a few of the use cases where it becomes more essential to have a private network versus use cases that do not have higher risk in network connectivity.
But there are applications that can benefit from having a portion of operations running on a private network while the rest of operations are running on a public network, which is the hybrid approach. More mission-critical applications and in house applications can leverage the private network, while mobile assets and fleet can leverage the public network as these assets travel from one location to another. However it can become complex managing multiple networks, private and public and the right guiding partner is key.
With 4G LTE having many more years of use, likely until 2030, 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) relatively prolific and 5G Standalone (SA) still in extremely early iterations, it is equally as viable to opt for either network technology.
With the continued buildout of 5G NSA and SA networks, private networks are going to become more accessible, making a choice between the two network technologies equally viable.
5G has been built with backward compatibility to 4G LTE, so the risk of choosing 4G LTE is not similar to the radical network sunsets seen with 2G and 3G. An upgrade from LTE to 5G will be necessary, but it won’t require recreating new architecture and hardware or devices. Many hardware manufacturers have created 5G-ready solutions to deploy now on LTE and upgrade to 5G later.
When it comes to private networks, many different considerations can crop up. Download the analyst whitepaper, “The Enterprise Private Network Opportunity” to learn The foundations of Private Networks, Spectrum for NPNs, Choosing the right Path for Private Networks, Vertical & Regional NPN Growth and Private LTE & 5G Market Sizing & Forecasts.
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