Enterprises are beginning to grasp the importance of private wireless networks (PWN) as they explore use cases key to their business transformation. However, many misconceptions and myths associated with the functionality and applicability of private wireless networks continue to distract. This blog post demystifies six common myths to help enterprises understand the true state of the technology and guide them to take the right approach amid all the hype and excitement around private wireless networks.
Myth #1: Private Wireless Networks Need all Advanced 3GPP Features
Enterprises may not need advanced 3GPP features to the same extent as commercial public networks. Organizations can achieve equivalent performance—as enabled by advanced 3GPP features—in private networks through custom system design and configuration. For instance, most of the performance benefits of ultra reliable low latency communications (URLLC) are realizable by bringing user-plane function closer to the user-device. Similarly, network slicing is less necessary since private network resources and components are dedicated to an enterprise, and the performance characteristics for a specific workload are managed without the complication and overhead of network slicing.
Myth #2: Private Wireless Networks Will Replace Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is a well-entrenched IT networking technology with significant advantages of cost and a known operational model. However, enterprises are discovering that Wi-Fi is not well-suited to address the needs of deployments requiring wide-area coverage with emobility or operational technology (OT) with stringent SLAs or under high system load. These happen to be precisely the areas where private wireless systems shine. As such, we see Wi-Fi will continue to serve in its traditional role and the WLAN, while private wireless networks will provide reliable service to enable operational outcomes that Wi-Fi cannot.
Myth #3: Business Outcomes Are Realized Only by Standalone, On-prem Private Wireless Networks
The connectivity solution needed to deliver business outcomes primarily depends on enterprise requirements, network topology of public MNO and location of private application. If the enterprise outcomes require localized connectivity with stringent performance requirements and maximum control to manage Quality of Service (QoS), a self-contained, isolated private wireless network in a box makes the most sense. On the other hand, if connectivity requirements are a bit relaxed and data sovereignty is the primary driver, organizations can implement a user-traffic offload via a user plane function (UPF) on the premises. If the use case is basic connectivity with a “look-and-feel” of a private network, it could simply leverage MNO network resources to route enterprise traffic to private wireless applications. If the enterprise requires roaming, wide-area coverage, fallback or redundant coverage, it could interconnect its private network with public MNO network in hybrid configuration.
Myth #4: Private Wireless Networks Must be Based on 5G
Private wireless networks can be based on 5G, as well as on 4G. In fact, most of the private wireless networks built to date are based on 4G due to the age of technology and proliferation of 4G commercial and IoT devices. However, with the growth in 5G-based chipsets, devices and the 5G ecosystem, more private wireless networks will be deployed using 5G. The choice of 5G or 4G depends primarily on the performance requirements and user device compatibility. While it is true 5G can offer higher speeds and better reliability and latency than 4G, if 4G can meet the business outcome, investing in 5G may not offer the best bang for the buck.
Myth #5: CBRS General Authorized Access (GAA) Spectrum is Not Good Enough
Enterprises can potentially use the entire CBRS GAA spectrum of 150 MHz, as long as it does not interfere with other CBRS users in the vicinity. This holds true in deployments that are indoors or even outdoors in isolated facilities. In a rare event, if interference is detected in higher tier users, SAS (Spectrum Access System) addresses that through interference mitigation techniques, such as transmit power reduction or coverage redesign. Moreover, plans are afoot to move Tier-1 users, including the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy and the Fixed Satellite Services (FSS), to alternative spectrum bands which will further improve availability of CBRS GAA spectrum. Consequently, the option of building private networks with CBRS GAA spectrum cannot be disregarded for PWN.
Myth #6: Private Wireless Networks Require Edge Computing and Must Replace Public Cloud
On-prem edge and public clouds work in tandem with different applications and workloads running in different locations. On-prem edge computing with a tightly integrated private wireless network enable sensitive use-cases requiring sub milliseconds of round-trip delay. Data is processed locally on-prem and actions are taken immediately by deploying application workloads on-prem on an edge compute infrastructure. On the other side of the architecture continuum, public cloud can offload edge location by hosting application workloads not requiring on-prem processing. These could be data storage, audit, analytics and AI/ML model training from data collected from edge devices.
In a nutshell, the goal of private wireless networks should be to address enterprise needs. Dell Technologies is well-positioned to help enterprises uncover misconceptions about private networks. We can combine product, service and partner capabilities into compelling solution offerings to meet enterprise business outcomes in their journey towards digital transformation. Visit our website to check out Dell’s current private wireless offerings.