With all the chatter about companies deploying private 5G networks now and the way the sector – finally! – seems to be starting to taking off, we at Fierce Network thought now was a good time to look at the players on the private networking scene.

A little who’s who of private 5G networking vendors, if you will.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Dell’Oro Group lists the top three global private wireless radio access network (RAN) suppliers as Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson as of April 2024. The top three private wireless RAN suppliers in 2023 excluding China include Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung, the analyst group said in its latest report.

Interesting that Nokia leads the pack outside of China given its struggles as of late.

Dell’Oro also noted that 5G is dominating private wireless expansions in China, while 4G LTE still rules the private network roost outside of China, despite large tech-forward companies in Europe and North America starting their 5G push. Private 5G RAN revenues are expected to reach the $1 billion to $2 billion range by 2028.

“The fact of the matter is that private wireless is now growing at a formidable pace,” said Stefan Pongratz, VP at Dell’Oro, contrasting that with the more downbeat outlook for public RAN in 2024.

Other players

So, who else is in the private 5G RAN picture?

Startup Celona has reached into the uncarpeted regions of the warehouse with its private wireless systems, which can run on 5G or 4G LTE via the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service shared band in the U.S., or in shared dedicated or licensed 5G spectrum from government or operators in “many countries globally,” Celona said.

AvidThink principal Roy Chua noted recently that Tesla must be using specific frequencies for its German private 5G deployment for its factory in Berlin. “It’s in the 3.7-3.8 GHz range since that would be Germany’s enterprise spectrum band,” Chua said, noting that the major private networking vendors could support that band, as well as Celona and others.

Chua noted that BMW had already partnered with NTT Group, Celona, Intel and Microsoft to develop a new Open RAN 5G lab in Germany. The car company had evidently partnered with a few companies to avoid vendor lock-in. Remember when that was a thing?

Startup Airspan is another prominent private wireless 5G RAN supplier. The company, which plans to go public through an $822 million merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), has already worked with Cisco, Metaswitch and Microsoft on private 5G. Airspan supplied the 5G radios for the projects, the other companies provided the 5G core networks. Airspan has also worked with private 5G core startup Druid Software.

Given the attention around the Telsa 5G private announcement recently, we asked Stefan Pongratz, Roy Chua and neXt Curve Executive Analyst Leonard Lee if they knew which vendor or suppliers the electric vehicle maker was using for the initial private networking push. None of them wanted to hazard a guess.

That said, “it’s likely not Huawei or any other Chinese vendor,” Chua noted.

No doubt, this will not be the only big 5G private networking project announced this year. We’ll be watching how the scene develops throughout 2024.

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