Starting with design, up to deployment and activation –only by having a system in place to test and oversee the entire private network will you be able to meet your SLAs.
Why Private 5G Networks?
Multi-faceted harbors, airports, high-density factory floors with thousands of connected devices are just a few of the enterprises that benefit from the reliable, always-on service of a private 5G (P5G) network. Customizable from the ground up, private networks are designed to be highly secure and flexible. Moreover, they can enable advanced service flexibility and fundamental 5G capabilities like network slicing. This can be critical in a multi-operation environment, such as a big harbor with multiple businesses inside it, each with different characteristics and SLAs.
Opportunities by Industry Vertical
Private 5G allows the characteristics of each network to be tailored to the specific requirements of the vertical(s). While use cases like healthcare and public safety seek to optimize performance with respect to latency and reliability, other verticals such as gaming and mobile broadband put a premium on bandwidth and mobility.
Challenges for System Integrators
The configurability of a private 5G network is compelling, but it can also introduce complexity throughout the network lifecycle. System integrators perform a critical function within the private 5G ecosystem by developing private network templates for a wide range of enterprises. Many also provide network as a service (NaaS) offerings, allowing customers to outsource network management, operation, and maintenance once the network has been activated.
Designing the Private 5G Network
Private 5G networks must be developed cost-effectively and ensure the same high-quality operation as a commercial network. The use cases for private networks are diverse, meaning the network must support a whole range of endpoints, each with different requirements. As an example - an automated smart factory will have sensors, M2M data exchange, autonomous robots, V2X etc., whereas a university campus will need to support fewer IoT type devices, but more human subscribers all talking, texting, and ‘TikTok-ing’ on their devices.
To ensure successful deployment, having a cost-effective test approach in the lab can help to pinpoint potential issues and allows engineers to troubleshoot and action problems before they occur in a real-world scenario. Pre-deployment testing provides the insight to ensure the Private 5G network can meet the requirements for those diverse use cases, and that the network is robust against security threats.
Can the private network meet the low-latency requirements needed to support URLLC applications? How severely will the network be impacted if it gets flooded with bad traffic?
As a System Integrator planning and designing the private 5G network, you should consider the following testbed pre-requisites that will put you ahead:
- A solution to simulate the behavior, traffic, and mobility profiles of end-users (i.e.: in the case of a shopping center) or endpoints (like in a connected factory)
- An option that supports a high number of UEs per cell or carrier to evaluate capacity
- A product that can emulate a 5G SA Core Network to test the effects of connecting a private 5G network to a core network prior to launch
- A combination of real stateful traffic mixed with threats and malware to thoroughly test network security protocols
Testing must be done cost-effectively, and well in advance of a network’s deployment to ensure that both the Enterprise and the Operator will get sufficient ROI. Partnering with the right test company at the design phase can ensure your private networks will support multiple, diverse scenarios and are ultra-secure, well in advance of roll-out.
Deploying, Activating, and Managing the Private 5G Network
Private networks are often tasked with the reliable delivery of mission-critical services and high-value content. This puts pressure on system integrators and operators to proactively address technical challenges including:
- Spectrum Coexistence: Each network node is potentially subject to a permitting process that can drag-on for years. Balancing licensed vs unlicensed spectrum utilization and making prudent use of unlicensed bands such as CBRS when they are available is essential.
- Multi-Operator Carrier Access Network: When private 5G networks encompass a large geographical area, this can bring multiple carriers and different SLAs into the fold. The performance of sensitive 5G functions like network slicing must be carefully monitored as they intersect other wireless and land-based networks in the region.
- Facility Access: As private 5G services are deployed and activated, access to hardware, facilities, and infrastructure must be well defined and controlled to avoid costly delays.
- 24/7 On-site Support: Despite the recent focus on lights out (unmanned) network operation to improve efficiency, 24-hour on-site support can be invaluable for private 5G networks seeking to meet a traditional 2-hour outage response time SLA.
Overcoming the Most Critical Challenges
There’s no magic formula, it must be engineered to work.
For complex private 5G networks to be successful, the design, deployment, and monitoring must be executed seamlessly to ensure the network will be fully operational on schedule, while consistently meeting important SLAs.
Spectrum clearance becomes critical as bands that previously contained other services are reassigned to private networks.
Signal analysis, timing and synchronization verification, antenna alignment, fiber certification, and coverage and performance testing are among most important steps to support high reliability and quality of service (QoS).
Automating the Test Process
As a System Integrator, you need to ensure the installation teams have solid build and test procedures that will be used along the way to make sure the network is being built correctly. You can minimize training through automation and provide consistency and repeatability throughout the process, which will allow you to gain insights for future process improvement.
Monitoring, Managing, and Automating the Private Network
Once you have validated the deployment of the private 5G network, the performance and capacity need to be monitored to assure quality of experience and ROI As the network service begins, balancing the needs for efficient OpEx, along with assuring its performance and reliability means you should increase automation for management, operation, and maintenance.
Having visibility into key performance indicators (KPIs), dashboards, and reporting for the continuous monitoring required to assess network reliability, while also automating many of the traditional steps for optimizing mean time to repair (MTTR) will ensure that the network is set to perform at its best.
The benefits of automation seen during installation and deployment testing also extend to more efficient private 5G network management and configuration, including end-to-end monitoring from the radio to the core network.
Discover The NITRO Private Networking Intelligence (PNI) solution built upon NITRO Mobility
The solution can be integrated into System Integrator network management, operation, and maintenance offerings as it not only provides assurance for both the RAN and Core aspects of a Private 5G deployment, but also offers the Location Intelligence of all cellularly connected devices to address an array of enterprise use cases unique to each vertical. As full service private network management across multiple regions and countries is growing rapidly, enhanced visibility becomes even more crucial.
Partnering with you in your Private 5G journey
If you need intelligent solutions to reduce complexity and ensure that the private 5G network is delivering the required quality and performance - prior to and after deployment - we can help.
VIAVI remains your trusted partner across the entire network lifecycle: from design, deployment, activation, and up to management, monitoring, and automation. Now, and in the future.
What is Private 5G?
Private 5G is the term used to describe a 5G cellular system built and operated exclusively for the private use of a company, individual, or government entity. Defined by the 3GPP as a non-public network (NPN), a private 5G network typically utilizes a smaller, more focused deployment to meet the specific reliability, availability, and service needs of the organization.
Legacy private networks featuring 4G LTE wireless provide enhanced coverage and customization options. By delivering ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (URLLC), private 5G networks change the equation by supporting advanced IoT, Industry 4.0, and mission-critical public safety applications. Improved access to spectrum, specialization of use cases, and network security concerns are additional factors fueling the market.
What are the Requirements for Private 5G?
Private 5G networks can support critical communication channels that must remain operable even when unforeseen events occur. Depending on the application, requirements for private network 5G availability, reliability, interworking, and quality of service (QoS) may be more stringent than commercial network standards.
- A transition from a cell-centric to beam-centric architecture, where static and dynamic beamforming plays a central role in performance, optimization, and location intelligence.
- Implementation of a service-based core network architecture (SBA).
- Virtual software defined networks (SDNs) to support network slicing and automated service delivery for the primary 5G uses cases: Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC).
What Additional Applications are Suitable for Private 5G?
Industry 4.0 is moving autonomous robots, transport systems, and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication into factories, power plants, and distribution centers. Additional private applications for reliable high-speed, low latency connectivity are seemingly endless.
Oil and Gas refineries have long recognized the value of private networks, with many falling outside the range of commercial wireless networks. These sites encompass larger geographic areas and include many critical machines, sensors, and safety features. Private 5G networks for industrial IoT allow these vast, interconnected networks to be monitored and maintained securely in real time.
Indoor venues are compatible with 5G small cell technology and time division duplex (TDD) transmission, as bounced or reflected signals within a confined space bolster redundancy and increase channel capacity.
Stadiums and Malls are among the large venues that experience high connectivity demand during peak hours of operation. The advent of 5G will add more demand for streaming content, augmented reality, and other high-bandwidth applications to this burden. Private 5G networks can meet these challenges, transforming large venues into “smart facilities” with enhanced capacity. The IoT and beamforming technologies can streamline facility operations and service delivery.
Smart Cities represent the utopian vision of a 5G-enabled future. Smart transportation systems will use low latency, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology to efficiently transport passengers between equally smart shopping, entertainment, and workplace locations. This idealized city is likely to employ a combination of independent small cell networks, private networks managed by commercial 5G network providers, and overarching public 5G networks.
What Options are Available for Private 5G Deployment?
Depending on enterprise preferences for privacy, QoS, spectrum utilization (licensed vs. unlicensed), multi-site coverage, and RAN customization, several viable options are emerging for private 5G deployment.
- Standalone 5G private networks are completely independent of outside mobile network operators (MNOs) and maintain a self-contained core network and RAN.
- Shared RAN networks, also known as hybrid networks, establish independent services within the enterprise but leverage the RAN and spectrum of a public network. This option cedes a portion of user and network control to the MNO.
- Network Slicing options are based on utilizing a separate, virtual portion of the MNO’s network for private use. The customized network slice is isolated for private use by the enterprise only.
What Role do Small Cells Play in Private 5G Networks?
As the name implies, small cell technology utilizes small, short range, distribution nodes to create a cost-effective indoor or outdoor 5G wireless grid. The outstanding mobility, stability, and coverage of small cell networks can be leveraged by shopping malls, office buildings, universities, manufacturing plants, and many other private networks in a 5G world.
- Low Deployment Cost - Small cell hardware is designed to reduce complexity. Many small cell transceivers can be mounted easily to walls, poles, and other common objects. Backhaul options are also flexible, with fiber, cable, and microwave all viable. Microcells can consistently meet the capacity demands for a high number of users over a large coverage area.
- License Exempt Band - Private 5G networks built with small cell mmWave nodes can utilize unlicensed frequency bands between 57 and 71GHz. This 14GHz of free, continuous spectrum provides private network 5G with a path to cost-effective, high-bandwidth service.