Deploying a private network is emerging as a key way for enterprises and industrial users to exploit advanced 5G capabilities and features.
The major 5G mobile network operators (MNOs) are currently focusing on applications based on consumer-oriented mobile broadband (MBB) services. However, the 5G standards are designed to support a variety of other applications. For example, the same technology that is used in major 5G mobile networks can be tailored to be used in private LTE/5G networks that address the complex and highly bespoke nature of the 5G services that enterprises and a range of sectors might be interested in.
In this article, we use this data to illustrate the trends in the use of private LTE networks and private 5G networks and explain these trends in terms of new 5G standards and spectrum availability.
What are private LTE/5G networks?
A private LTE/5G network is a cellular network that is built specifically for an individual enterprise. Such networks are most commonly deployed on a single site (for example, in a factory or a mine). Private LTE/5G networks can also be deployed to address wide-area network requirements such as a utility’s need to monitor a transmission network. Private LTE/5G networks differ from public mobile networks; the latter are typically currently designed to support the wide-area network requirements of the consumer smartphone market.
There are several deployment models that can be used for private LTE/5G networks. Some of the key differences between these models are the type of spectrum used, the core network architecture, and how the network is deployed (for example, by an MNO, specialist company, equipment vendor, system integrator, or the user itself).
Private LTE/5G networks are often used to connect a diverse range of device types. Private 5G networks in particular are being used to wirelessly connect a large number of sensors and different device types and to provide wireless connections with performance that is comparable to that from fixed cabling. This is needed to maintain the high reliability and low latency that is required for real-time data analytics, image analysis, and control-type applications.
The main users of private LTE networks are different from those of private 5G networks
Our latest data indicates that a growing variety of applications and sectors are using private networks. A wider range of vertical markets are using LTE-based private networks than 5G-based networks, largely because LTE technology has been available for longer (see Figures 1 and 2).
Figure 1: Users of LTE-based private networks, worldwide, from data published in June 2021.
Figure 2: Users of 5G-based private networks, worldwide, from data published in June 2021.
Nearly half of the 5G private networks that are currently listed in our tracker are deployed in factories. LTE-based private network use is more fragmented; the main users include factories, ports, and mines.
5G networks support more-advanced applications than LTE networks
LTE-based private networks have mostly been used for MBB connectivity (for example, mobile workforce), industrial equipment connectivity, and asset tracking, as shown in Figure 3. Private 5G networks are also being used for industrial equipment connectivity and asset tracking but are additionally used in automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) (see Figure 4). These applications use 5G’s low-latency capabilities to enable real-time data capture, real-time process analysis, and intelligent maintenance. Advanced applications can also make use of the new spectrum that is available for 5G networks, which has wider contiguous channels and advanced antenna systems to provide the additional capacity and network performance needed for the most demanding applications.
Figure 3: Applications most commonly supported by LTE-based private networks, worldwide, from data published in June 2021.
Figure 4: Applications most commonly supported by 5G-based private networks, worldwide, from data published in June 2021.
New spectrum is enabling additional use cases for private 5G networks
Analysys Mason’s Private LTE/5G networks tracker indicates that private LTE/5G networks use either licensed mobile spectrum, shared access spectrum (such as CBRS spectrum in the USA), or local access licenses. The latter is becoming more prevalent with 5G now that specific bands for local 5G use have been made available in several markets. These bands vary between different countries, but prominent examples include the 3.7–3.8 GHz band in Germany, the 3.8–4.2 GHz band in the UK and the 2570–2620 MHz band in France.1 CBRS spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band has been available for some time in the USA for use in both LTE and 5G private networks on a shared access basis.
Most of the systems listed in Analysys Mason’s tracker are still reported to be using licensed mobile spectrum (that is, spectrum licensed to MNOs). However, a growing number of private 5G networks are making use of locally licensed spectrum that regulators have made available to support private network deployments (see Figure 5).
Figure 5: Type of spectrum used in private LTE/5G networks, worldwide, from data published in June 2021.
The bands that are typically used vary depending on the market in question. The most commonly used bands for LTE-based and 5G-based private networks are shown below.
|Europe||2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz||3.7–3.8 GHz and 3.8–4.2 GHz|
|Americas||3.5 GHz (CBRS)||3.5 GHz and mmWave|
|Asia–Pacific||1800 MHz||28 GHz|
One benefit of the new 5G spectrum is that it is better-suited to low-latency applications that need wider channels. This means that more-demanding factory-based applications could be delivered over wireless 5G links instead of fixed cabling. The use of wireless technology may provide a range of benefits to users, such as greater scalability and flexibility to move or reconfigure machinery without the constraints of wired connections. These wider channels are principally available in spectrum bands in the 3.4 – 4.2 GHz frequency range and are not available within the bands most commonly used for private LTE networks, such as 1800 MHz and 2.6 GHz.
MNOs are increasingly getting involved with private network deployments
MNOs are increasingly getting involved with the deployment of private 5G networks (either as network providers or delivery partners) due to the complexity of 5G technology and the demanding factory and industrial applications that 5G is being used to support. Indeed, for private LTE networks, the majority of systems are managed by network equipment providers (NEPs), whereas there is an equal split between the share of systems managed by NEPs and those managed by MNOs for private 5G networks (see Figure 6).
Figure 6: Providers for private LTE and 5G networks, worldwide, from data published in June 2021
1 The European 5G Observatory provides further details on the various approaches to private 5G network spectrum in Europe. European 5G Observatory (2020), 5G private licenses spectrum in
Janette Stewart is one of Analysys Mason’s senior spectrum experts, with 25 years of experience in radio engineering, wireless technologies, spectrum policy, and spectrum management. Janette joined Analysys Mason in 2001, having previously worked for the UK Radiocommunications Agency (now Ofcom). Janette’s expertise lies in mobile, wireless, and broadband technologies and markets and her consulting experience includes advising on market developments in the wireless sector, wireless technology evolution, wireless business modeling, spectrum valuation, spectrum strategy, competition, and regulation issues in the wireless market. She holds a BEng in Electronic Engineering from the University of Edinburgh, and an MSc in Radio Communications from the University of Bradford.
Michele MacKenzie is an analyst for Analysys Mason’s IoT and M2M Services research program, with responsibility for M2M and LPWA forecasts. She has over 20 years of experience as an analyst and researches IoT verticals such as utilities, automotive, healthcare, fleet management, and the industrial IoT. She also writes reports on the role of network technologies such as NB-IoT and 5G. Michele leads Analysys Mason’s research on private LTE/5G networks and has produced reports on the competitive landscape and network deployment models, as well as a forecast of network spending on private LTE/5G. Prior to joining Analysys Mason in February 2014, Michele was a freelance analyst with a focus on M2M and IoT technology and trends.
Ibraheem is a member of the Operator Business Services and IoT research team in London and contributes to the IoT and M2M Services and Private Networks research programs. He has written on topics including private LTE/5G networks, IoT eSIMs and iSIMs, and LPWA networks, and has researched IoT verticals such as smart metering and smart buildings. Ibraheem holds a BSc in economics from the University of Warwick and wrote his dissertation on the impact of technology on sleep.
Today, most consumers are familiar with the short-range wireless protocols, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, that they use to connect their laptops, tablets, wireless headphones and other electronic devices to the Internet. However, while these protocols are fine for someone who wants to browse the Internet on their iPad, listen to music on their JBL headphones or play Fortnite with friends online, they are not designed to support a growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
For example, they can’t be used by a shipping company to monitor their cargo as it is transported across the country or to track other mobile assets as they travel across a wide geographic area. They can’t be used by an oil company that wants to monitor a sensor on a remote oil pipeline or to connect to other stationary sensors and devices in locations where no secure local network is available. They are hard to use if a utility wants to collect data from smart meters located in a building’s basement, if an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) wants to monitor an air compressor used at a manufacturing facility, or if another asset owner or manufacturer wants to connect to their asset, but do not own or manage the local network near that asset.
In these and similar situations, where securely and reliably connecting to a local wireless network is difficult if not impossible, long-range wireless communications technologies are preferable. In particular, Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network technologies, including technologies based on 3GPP standards like LTE-M and NB-IoT, offer long-range communications, along with broad coverage, high capacity, and, perhaps most importantly for IoT use cases, low power consumption, which enables battery-powered IoT devices to operate for 10 years or more.
Despite these advantages, companies still face challenges as they develop and deploy LPWA-based IoT systems. In a survey we conducted for our new report, IoT System Development with LPWAN: Benefits, Challenges, and Architectures respondents identified several challenges related to IoT system development using LPWA including 1) minimizing power consumption; 2) securing IoT data; 3) lowering project development time; 4) reducing total cost of ownership.
In reviewing wireless solution market offerings for the report, we also found that low-power, low-cost integrated wireless solutions can help customers tackle these challenges, and reap the benefits of LPWA.
Challenge 1: Minimizing Device Power Consumption
In our report’s survey of 225 engineers and product/project managers involved in the development of IoT devices that use long-range wireless communications, respondents said that 48% of the devices on which they were currently working were not connected to the main electrical grid and did not utilize any AC mains power.
This means that those devices are primarily or exclusively powered by batteries. As such, power consumption, including that of the embedded wireless module, is an important consideration in the design of the majority of these devices, lest the batteries be prematurely drained.
In basic battery-powered IoT sensors, wireless communications may be the most power-consuming function of the device. However, IoT system development can lower this power consumption by utilizing the latest generation of wireless modules. In addition, integrated wireless solutions that offer data orchestration allow IoT system designers to process, prioritize, and filter data at the edge, helping them further maximize efficient usage of their IoT devices’ limited power resources.
Challenge 2: Securing IoT Data
Our 2020 survey of professionals involved in the development of IoT systems using LPWA showed that respondents rated security as the most important factor in selecting a wireless technology vendor.
This is not surprising given the increasing prevalence of high-profile cybersecurity breaches which have required IoT device makers to take security into account in every aspect of their product designs, including wireless communications technology.
Although security for IoT devices encompasses a wide range of hardware and software requirements, our survey revealed that communications security (IPsec, TLS/SSL, etc.) was the most commonly employed security enhancement in current IoT projects (53.8% of respondents).
This highlights the importance of selecting an established, trusted vendor for LPWA wireless communications solutions. In addition, integrated wireless solutions can orchestrate security from end-to-end, including IoT device hardware, the firmware it runs on, and the network the device uses to transmit data, helping ensure there are no security vulnerabilities anywhere within the solution.
Challenge 3: Lowering Project Development Time
In our survey, the average project development time reported by respondents was 13.7 months, with 31% of respondents saying their projects were running behind schedule.
One of the most compelling benefits of an integrated wireless solution is that it can reduce development time by 15% to 20%, shaving two to three months off a typical development schedule and preempting any schedule slippage.
Reducing development time also reduces development costs (our survey revealed to have a median of $500,000 per project). Additionally, by bringing products to market more quickly, OEMs have the opportunity to garner additional sales, market share, and profits, benefitting the bottom line – another strong motivator for addressing this challenge.
Challenge 4: Reducing Total Cost of Ownership
In addition to development costs, IoT system developers have expenses related to certifying and managing devices, managing connectivity subscriptions, maintaining the IoT system, and cloud connectivity.
A low-power, low-cost, integrated wireless solution can be quite compelling in reducing these costs. Using median project cost figures from our survey, it is estimated that an OEM’s total cost of ownership (including non-recurring engineering costs, bill-of-materials costs, product maintenance costs, communications services costs, and cloud connectivity costs) can be reduced by an average of 23% using such an integrated wireless solution. For basic IoT devices—where the wireless functions constitute a larger than average portion of the entire project—savings can be even higher, approaching 30%.
By integrating communications services, cloud connection services, and data orchestration into an all-in-one solution, then, IoT solution vendors can significantly reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for IoT system developers.
These four challenges are not the only challenges that OEMs face in developing an IoT system that utilizes LPWA. Other concerns include the need to intelligently buffer, filter, store, and transmit data, not just to optimize system-level power consumption but to provide the right data, at the right time, to the right cloud application, enabling more frequent sensor readings and more extensive data processing.
OEMs and other companies across a wide variety of industries increasingly see IoT systems as a way to gather asset data they can use to lower costs, increase uptime, and offer customers new revenue-generating services. With the right IoT solution partners, OEMs can navigate around the challenges associated with developing IoT systems that require long-range wireless communications and use LPWA-network technologies to realize these and other digital transformation objectives.
Find the original, unedited version published by Sierra Wireless here:
Steve Hoffenberg is a market research professional who brings his expertise to Embedded Software and IoT. He has more than two decades of experience in market research and product management for technology products and services. At VDC, Steve covers industry trends, market sizing, marketing strategy, and competitive analysis, for a variety of IoT-related technologies, including embedded systems, security, wireless communications, cloud platforms and data analytics. He is also a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Demand for Microwave Transmission equipment grew 11 percent year-over-year in the first half of 2021 driven by LTE and 5G. In that same period, microwave revenue from mobile backhaul application grew 16 percent, according to a new report from
“The Microwave Transmission market is recovering from the decline caused by the spread of COVID-19 as evidenced by the strong growth in the first half of 2021,” stated Jimmy Yu, vice president at Dell’Oro Group. “Almost all of the vendors in this industry are benefiting from the improving mobile backhaul market, especially the top vendors. Since demand is rising, each vendor’s performance this year will come down to how well they navigate the supply issues created by the pandemic and semiconductor shortages,” said Yu.
Highlights from the 2Q 2021 Quarterly Report:
All regions contributed to the positive market growth this quarter with the exception of Latin America. Latin America declined year-over-year for a ninth consecutive quarter, shrinking to its lowest quarterly revenue level that we have on record.
The top three vendors in the quarter continued to be Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia. In 2Q 2021, Huawei regained most of the market share lost in the previous quarter and returned to holding a 10-percentage point lead over Ericsson.
E/V Band revenue growth remained positive for another consecutive quarter and held its double-digit year-over-year growth rate.
Source Dell’Oro Group
With the IoT now enabling practically any asset to be connected to the internet, the need for wide-area, low-power, low-cost connectivity for IoT applications has grown. With this type of connectivity, utilities, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), transportation and logistics firms, construction firms and other organizations can deploy smart energy and resource monitoring, smart city infrastructure monitoring, predictive maintenance, mobile asset tracking, and similar IoT applications that allow them to collect, analyze and use asset data to lower costs, offer new services, increase customer engagement, and otherwise transform the way they operate.
At first, proprietary Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies like LoRa and Sigfox emerged to meet some of these organizations need for wide area, low power IoT connectivity. Then, over the past decade, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) introduced standards for two cellular LPWA technologies – Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-Machine Type Communication (LTE-M). Meanwhile, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have built out NB-IoT and LTE-M networks, with at least 156 such networks now in operation around the world today.
While shipments of proprietary and cellular LPWA IoT devices are roughly equal today, over the next decade industry experts expect growth of cellular LPWA devices to outpace propriety LPWA devices. BERG Insight forecasts that annual shipments of 3GPP LPWA (NB-IoT and LTE-M) IoT devices will exceed 300 million units by 2025, while annual shipments of non-3GPP LPWA IoT devices will grow more slowly over this period, to less than 250 million units.
Why will Cellular LPWA Grow Faster than Proprietary LPWA?
The reason why shipments of cellular LPWA device shipments are expected to be higher than propriety LPWA over the coming years is that cellular LPWA offers several advantages over proprietary LPWA. These advantages are leading organizations to increasingly choose cellular LPWA for their monitoring, tracking and other IoT applications.
Cellular LPWA, unlike propriety LPWA, offers organizations:
Separating Cellular LPWA Fact from Fiction
Despite these and other advantages associated with cellular LPWA, some business leaders still think cellular LPWA’s power consumption, data throughput, and coverage or signal penetration capabilities are significantly weaker than proprietary LPWA’s.
However, upon further examination, the facts show that many of these cellular LPWA drawback drawbacks are fiction. For example:
Cellular LPWA Power Consumption is Comparable to Proprietary LPWA: While broadband LTE and 5G NR cellular chipsets do consume more battery power than proprietary LPWA chipsets, cellular LPWA chipsets deliver power performance on par with proprietary LPWA chipsets. Designed for IoT applications, these NB-IoT and LTE-M chipsets have been designed to use very little power when they are in sleep or standby mode. And because cellular LPWA data rates are higher than propriety LPWA data rates, they can connect and then disconnect from the network faster than proprietary LPWA chipsets, allowing them to save additional power by spending more time in sleep or standup mode
LoRa’s Coverage and Signal Penetration Are Not Significantly Better Than Cellular LPWA: LoRa, a proprietary LPWA technology, is perceived as having better coverage and signal penetration than NB-IoT and LTE-M. Yet, the difference in maximum coupling loss (the amount of the wireless channel that can be lost before device is no longer able to connect to network infrastructure’s antenna) between Lora (165db) and cellular LPWA (164db) is only one decibel. In addition, public cellular LPWA networks are denser than LoRa networks – which means, for a given area, cellular LPWA is likely to provide better coverage and signal penetration than LoRa.
Data Throughput Rates for Cellular LPWA Are Higher Than Proprietary LPWA: The latest version of NB-IoT, NB2, offers downlink (DL) speeds of 127 Kilobits Per Second (kbps) and uplink (UL) speeds of 158 kbps, while the latest version of LTE-M, M1, provides DL speeds of 588 kbps and UL speeds of 1119 kbps. These rates and real-world field tests of cellular LPWA and proprietary LPWA devices show cellular LPWA data speeds are higher than proprietary LPWA technologies. Thanks to these higher data rates, in the field FOTA updates that are not possible with proprietary LPWA devices can be completed with cellular LPWA devices. Moreover, because cellular LPWA uses licensed spectrum, quality of service and non-interference is guaranteed both today and tomorrow, further improving performance.
Cellular LPWA Delivers the IoT Connectivity Organizations Need in a Connected Economy
As organizations of all types seek to digitally transform their operations, being able to extract, orchestrate and act on data from widely distributed, battery powered, low-cost IoT sensors and other devices is becoming more important than ever.
Cellular LPWA’s ubiquitous global coverage, robust security, support for FOTA upgrades and guaranteed service meet this need, providing organizations with wide area, inexpensive, low-power connectivity for a wide range of IoT applications. In addition, with power consumption, data throughput rates and coverage that is comparable to or better than proprietary LPWA, and a technology standard supported by MNOs and other wireless industry leaders, these organizations can be confident that cellular LPWA will offer them the connectivity their IoT applications need not just today, but tomorrow as well.
With more than 20 years experience in the data communications industry, Olivier Amiot, Marketing Director, is responsible for driving the business development and market strategy to address the IoT Solutions in the smart energy and industrial market segment at Sierra Wireless. Olivier joined Sierra Wireless from Wavecom, where he served as Product Marketing Director. Prior to that, Olivier held positions in Product Marketing and Innovation, Product Management and Product Strategy in Fortune 500 companies including Sony Corporation and Royal Philips. Olivier has an engineering background with a Master in Telecommunication and a Diplomarbeit.
To view the original blog at Sierra Wireless, go here: https://www.sierrawireless.com/iot-blog/cellular-lpwa-vs-proprietary-lpwa/?lsc=db_internal-eblast_eblast___eblast-cell-lpwa-vs-prop-lpwa-bl-210719-wkly-bl&cid=7011M0000016aOwQAI&campaigntype=database-marketing-lead-nurture&utm_source=internal-eblast&utm_medium=eblast&utm_campaign=eblast-cell-lpwa-vs-prop-lpwa-bl-210719-wkly-bl
The June 2021 report from Ericsson projects that 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million by the end of 2021, driven by an estimated one million new 5G mobile subscriptions every day.
The report, which features in the 20th edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, predicts that 5G will become the fastest adopted mobile generation. About 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions and 60 percent 5G population coverage are forecast by the end of 2026.
However, the pace of adoption varies widely by region. Europe is off to a slower start and has continued to fall far behind China, the United States Korea, Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets in the pace of 5G deployments.
This commercial 5G momentum is expected to continue in coming years, spurred by the enhanced role of connectivity as a key component of post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
North East Asia is expected to account for the largest share of 5G subscriptions by 2026, with an estimated 1.4 billion 5G subscriptions. While North American and GCC markets are expected to account for the highest 5G subscription penetration, with 5G mobile subscriptions comprising 84 percent and 73 percent of all regional mobile subscriptions respectively.
Data traffic continues to grow year on year. One exabyte (EB) comprises 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) gigabytes (GB). Global mobile data traffic – excluding traffic generated by fixed wireless access (FWA) – exceeded 49 EB per month at the end of 2020 and is projected to grow by a factor of close to 5 to reach 237 EB per month in 2026. Smartphones, which currently carry 95 percent of this traffic, are also consuming more data than ever. Globally, the average usage-per-smartphone now exceeds 10 GB/month and is forecast to reach 35 GB/month by the end of 2026.
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digitalization and increasing the importance of – and the need for – reliable, high-speed mobile broadband connectivity. According to the latest report, almost nine out of ten communications service providers (CSPs) that have launched 5G also have a fixed wireless access (FWA) offering (4G and/or 5G), even in markets with high fiber penetration. This is needed to accommodate increasing FWA traffic, which the report forecasts to grow by a factor of seven to reach 64 EB in 2026.
Massive IoT technology (NB-IoT and Cat-M) connections are forecast to increase by almost 80 percent during 2021, reaching almost 330 million connections. In 2026, these technologies are forecast to comprise 46 percent of all cellular IoT connections.