IoT – the big driver behind the transformation of private networks

Catherine Gull, Head of Private Network Sales at Cellnex UK, explains why enterprises should look to private networks to unlock digital transformation in the workplace, facilitating the fourth industrial revolution and opening up a world of new possibilities in a fast-moving digital era.

Enterprises across various industry verticals are continually seeking ways to improve business outcomes. Productivity, operational efficiency, quality, cost, workplace safety, growth and sustainability are all areas that fundamentally dictate the success or failure of a business. But to realise such outcomes, it’s essential for organisations to have outstanding digital infrastructure in place.

Technology ecosystems are the substrate on which business and operational models can be transformed. With emerging technology such as IoT and AI creating machines that enhance human intelligence, we find ourselves on the cusp of transformative industrial change unlike anything the UK has seen before. Therefore, companies who secure such transformational technologies will experience unrivalled growth, security and prosperity.

The private network industry – a global market estimated to be worth almost $14 billion by 2028 – is key to unlocking this potential through the provision of data connectivity, a defining feature of the modern economy.

With their high bandwidth, low latency, and excellent security, private networks bring benefits of cellular infrastructure to a closed-circuit environment. They offer dedicated coverage with capacity scaled to meet specific needs and locations. Additionally, they provide secure, seamless and guaranteed voice and data coverage where and when needed to ensure continuity of business-critical operations and are designed to meet demanding business requirements.

These features are especially critical for organisations such as shipping ports, warehouses and factories where high network performance, consistent reliability and data security are vital to manage and optimise operations.

By building and installing private networks, organisations take control of the reliability and coverage their own private wireless network to match their process requirements. With that authority comes an unequalled level of privacy and security because data and processes inside private networks are completely segregated from public networks.

The private network industry has, therefore, experienced exceptional growth as enterprises develop use cases that increase their productivity, efficiency, safety and security. If you think about the primary use cases for private networks, it always builds on a foundation of a need to digitally connect. For example, the private network can provide reliable connectivity in all of the areas that are required for staff to use tablets to receive and confirm instructions on activities; connectivity to enable scanners to track goods moving in and out of a location; and connectivity to systems that power autonomous or remote controls.

Due to their additional connectivity capabilities, private networks are set to provide a viable and more reliable alternative to traditional public wireless networks, in some cases replacing the need for wired networks, and crucially, enabling new kinds of transformative IoT applications in the workplace. These technologies are virtually endless and include cutting-edge innovations such as fully autonomous robots, which help increase automation, productivity and efficiency by digitizing a variety of operations and processes. In fact, we can’t even imagine the possibilities for productivity and efficiency that private networks can enable.

Therefore, the big driver behind private networks is IoT. It connects sensors, sometimes hundreds or thousands, in order for companies to track everything on site, from location of vehicles and assets to operational health of machinery and pipeline. This is crucial use case for private networks as unlike public networks, the location of these sites are often remote and the required assets and machinery often difficult to reach within the sites themselves.

Using private networks to power IoT exponentially increases the number of connected devices that can by connected on site and ensures an extra layer of security and reliability over other technologies. Their ability to deliver dedicated, end-to-end security ensures critical infrastructure can be shielded from all types of threats. Therefore, in addition to many vertical sectors such as ports, logistics and manufacturing, it is projected that private networks will also gain huge traction from government.

IoT is no longer simply the label of a future trend, but an increasingly palpable reality, enhancing the efficiency of industrial processes, optimising activity flows and multiplying the possibilities of implementing new business models, which were previously unthinkable. By using private networks to complement other wireless networks, enterprises can gain all the connectivity they need to support IoT applications while ushering in a new age of Industry 4.0.

As the requirements of IoT and private networks evolve, it’s important that enterprises have solutions that can be tuned into their specific needs. Varying from one organisation to the next, these needs can differ across parameters such as performance, coverage, compliance, control and management. Therefore, network flexibility will be critical today, and in the future.

As the UK’s largest and fastest-growing independent owner and operator of wireless telecoms infrastructure, Cellnex UK is integral to the successful roll-out of private 5G networks. We are working on the new generation of connectivity solutions that will help to accelerate digitalisation and the development of Industry 4.0.

Working alongside enablers such as Cellnex UK, it’s time for organisations to take stock of this transformational technology and think carefully about how it can be implemented into their business, before realising the benefits.

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