Although LTE is still used for most private wireless networks, 5G’s private wireless share is increasingly quickly, according to a new report from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).
GSA tracks at least 370 companies around the world that have invested or are investing in private mobile networks. Just under two thirds (64%) of the catalogued private mobile networks use LTE, down from 81% in October 2020. Currently, 5G is being deployed or is planned for deployment in 44% of private mobile networks, including 8% that are both LTE and 5G.
GSA defines private mobile wireless networks to include 3GPP/LT-5G private mobile networks intended for the sole use of private entities such as enterprises, industries or governments, that are not offered to the general public and that use spectrum defined in 3GPP.
While some entities may take responsibility for constructing their private mobile networks, others turn to mobile network operators, systems integrators and equipment/technology vendors, GSM notes in a press release. The organization, which calls itself “the voice of the global mobile ecosystem,” has identified 68 public network operators that supply and are involved with private mobile networks based on LTE or 5G.
While some private mobile networks provide local area network (LAN) coverage for a single building or campus, others offer broader wide area network (WAN) coverage. According to an executive summary of the GSA report, titled “Private Mobile Networks-Market Status Update (August 2021),” 53% of the private mobile networks that GSA tracks are LANs and 19% are WANs.
The LAN/WAN status of some private mobile networks could not be confirmed, but GSA estimates that an additional 16% are LANs and an additional 1% are WANs.
Manufacturers are early adopters of private mobile LANs, the GSA research suggests. Researchers identified 79 manufacturers holding suitable licenses or involved in known private mobile LAN pilots or deployments. Other categories involved in private mobile LANs include mining and ports.
Utilities, police/security/public safety/defenses, communications/IT and rail are the biggest users of private mobile network WANs, according to GSA.
Some enterprises and other entities deploying or planning to deploy private mobile networks plan to use unlicensed spectrum while others have obtained spectrum licenses. Some stakeholders consider the CBRS band to be particularly well suited to support private mobile networks because it is mid-band spectrum and is available on a licensed and unlicensed basis.
While wireless network operators won the majority of CBRS band licenses, other winners included Deere and Company, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech Foundation and others that are likely to use the spectrum for private wireless networks.