International 5G News Stories

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Private 5G hype vs. hope—where are we really?

While private 5G investment has clearly not lived up to forecasts, the technology has matured, enterprises are buying it, and it is delivering net new value. Perhaps the central dilemma here is that, generally speaking, the people selling things tend to want to sell as much as possible as quickly as possible. But in the case of heavy industry, the buyers tend not to build anything in the hopes that the value will gradually emerge. Private 5G-enabled solutions have to deliver from day one. Another wrinkle here for sellers is that selling private 5G is different from selling commodity connectivity; it requires deep familiarity with the needs of the buyer and the ability to eschew business as usual. Buyers need a customized solution so trying to sell everyone some version of the same thing can often lead you to a market reality that’s starkly less rosy than a market forecast. 

But things are coming along, according to experts convened for the forum. We heard from Future Technologies CEO Peter Cappiello that his firm’s private wireless pipeline has grown from about $40 million a year ago to around $185 million today. “It seems to be scaling every week,” he said. “We’re fairly bullish. We like the reality of it and we feel like we’re in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the market conditions.”

“I’ve been saying to my board… ‘tomorrow, tomorrow,’ for the last few years now,” Ste Ashton of NexGworx, said. And finally, he sees interest expanding from huge global enterprises to small- and medium-sized firms as well as with governments. “I think we’re ready for that wave to come,” he said. He then made an important distinction between selling private 5G to support one use case and stacking up multiple use cases to help buyers “justify that return on investment…I do believe we’re actually on the cusp of that wave at the moment.” 

Private 5G solution success is “ecosystem-dependent” 

Druid Software Senior Manager of Business Development David O’Byrne acknowledged that revenue isn’t matching up with forecasts, but “reality is always less shiny than the magic spreadsheet.” However, “Things are definitely peaking, and the amount of business we’re doing is definitely growing.” As far as why there hasn’t been an explosion in private 5G adoption by manufacturers, for instance, O’Byrne rightly noted that delivering a solution is “ecosystem-dependent” in that it requires alignment across core and radio networks as well as chipsets and devices. “We’re not building Lego here,” he said. “There is a time lag once the standard is completed to bring all of this into chipset design, into end-user devices, into radios.”

Big picture, he said, it would appear the private 5G ecosystem is “coming out of our difficult teenage years and starting to grow up into a real, serious industry.” Success “depends on the vertical, it depends on the ecosystem you need to deliver the thing.”

iBwave Market Development Director Jalal Berrahou noted regional growth in the U.S., U.K, Germany, France and Japan, as well as stand out verticals like oil and gas, energy and mining. The commonality, he said, “is all of these, they have really valid use cases” that speak to safety, security, reliability and other business-critical characteristics private 5G can deliver. But once you get out of major global industries in advanced economies, and once these types of potential buyers see the breadth of available solutions, there’s “hesitancy. They probably have a harder time justifying the ROI and the value.” As to the number of technology options, Berrahou said he’s “waiting for consolidation” in the private 5G vendor market. With consolidation, “it becomes easier to pick a solution and really prove the value of the investment…Once we get to that point, I think it’s going to become mainstream.” 

The killer app for private 5G is making something work that previously didn’t 

O’Byrne dug into the killer app vs. apps conversation, distilling his pitch to private 5G as a justified investment if it solves a recurring problem that costs a business time and money. Giving the example of autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), he said, “If you have Wi-Fi-driven AGVs that are breaking down…your infrastructure is not fit for purpose. Then, when you have [private 5G] in, you can start to think about how do you amortize the costs, what are all the benefits this is bringing us? Then at that point you can think about moving everything…to digital…It’s really about changing the context away from what’s the killer app for this. You need the private network because something you’re doing today is not working, and that’s why you need to invest in new infrastructure.” 

Berrahou, analoging the trouble with selling a one-size-fits-all product into a market that requires tailoring with the work RF engineers have to do in the private network space, said they have to become consultants and think about the technical and business sides of the equation. Cappiello agreed that the in for private 5G is around “common sense use cases you can make a decision on today.” 

“It’s just a different mindset,” O’Byrne concluded. “You need to be business-focused to really understand this.” Of potential private 5G buyers, “You have to meet them where they are.” 


Nokia claims 93% of private network early adopters achieved ROI within 12 months

A report by Nokia claims enterprise private network early adopters are scaling up usage since setting them up, and revealed some stats around how the surveyed firms view the benefits and ROI of their deployments.

Nokia’s 2024 Industrial Digitalization Report was conducted by GlobalData with the aim of gauging industry progress and return on investment among 100 enterprise private wireless early adopters in Australia, France, Japan, UK, and the US, working in the manufacturing, transportation, and energy industries.

All of those surveyed are using private wireless networks in additional locations or have expanded their use by launching more use cases in existing locations, claims the report, and in terms of ROI 93% said they achieved it within 12 months, 78% said that they achieved a ‘positive outcome’ within six months, and 23% hit their ROI target in one month. This was done by fixing broken processes and ‘reducing the overall cost of doing business’ we’re told.

Worker safety and sustainability came out as things private network setups are helping firms with in particular. 65% said they achieved more than 10% improvement in ‘top use cases to improve worker safety’, such as implementing geofencing technology and using robotics to carry out dangerous work.

79% said they experienced a significant improvement in their sustainability efforts, reporting a 10%, or more reduction in their emissions after deploying private wireless networks. This was done via sensors on industrial IoT devices and to monitor carbon emissions, and the use of drone technology to reduce the number of ‘truck rolls’, says the report.  

Meanwhile 39% of the enterprises that deployed private wireless have since implemented an on-premise edge technology or a new selection of industrial devices to power things like AI and analytics, with another 52% planning to do so. 

By way of example of this sort of industrial upgrade work, the report highlights Lufthansa Technik which deployed private wireless networks for inspection of aircraft components and remote maintenance via upload of high-quality video from multiple cameras. It has since thrown up some edge compute to eliminate the need of physically moving server stacks supporting AI analytics near to aircraft engines.

“The deployment of private wireless networks improved our connectivity from the outset,” said Claudius Noak, IT Consultant, Lufthansa Industry Solutions. “It gives us a stable, reliable, and secure connection across an extensive area with only a small number of access points, essential for virtual table inspection. The additional value came from the expansion and integration of new use cases. Since the deployment, we have extended the number of radio locations at the site, with private wireless networks connecting over 50 devices, a number that will soon grow into the hundreds, with the ability to ultimately support over 1,000 connected devices.”

David de Lancellotti, Vice President of Enterprise Campus Edge Business at Nokia added: “The ROI of private wireless and industrial edge is proven. We help our customers improve worker safety, productivity, and reduce emissions while reducing operational costs by bundling private wireless and Wi-Fi connectivity, applications, and devices in one central on- premise edge platform.

“This will certainly drive the fast deployment of more use cases and lower the total cost of ownership. The Nokia Industrial Digitalization Report reinforces that private wireless networks and edge technology, combined in one platform provide enterprises with the best foundation for the AI-powered use cases into their operations.”

Surveying early adopters of any new technology is a somewhat self-selecting process when it comes to enthusiasm and eagerness to plug in more tech in the future, but if some swift ROI can be demonstrated for enterprises that have already hooked themselves up with private networks, it doesn’t hurt the sales pitch for all those in the telco industry looking to this as a future growth area.


Citymesh installs private 5G in North Sea to secure EU power infrastructure

Private network operator and industrial connectivity specialist Citymesh has deployed a private 5G network – or rather upgraded an existing private LTE network – at the Nobelwind wind farm in the North Sea, about 50 kilometres off the Belgian coast. The work is part of the new 5G Seacurity project to secure offshore power infrastructure, and follows a security pact in April between six North Sea countries, including Belgium, to better protect crucial assets in the region. 

Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK also signed the deal, which follows on from the North Sea Security Pact, signed at the North Sea Summit in April of 2023. Tensions are high because of tensions with Russia, notably. Swedish security services firm Securitas is leading a core of Belgian groups on the Nobelwind endeavour, also including FOD Mobiliteit, the federal transport agency, video analytics firm Phoenix AI, and cloud robotics company Dotocean.

The Nobelwind facility is one of three wind farms operated by Belgian firm Parkwind in the North Sea. Fifty turbines across 19.8 square kilometres at the site supply power for around 190,000 households on the mainland. The project, which has received government funding, connects a new IoT sensor array to the upgraded 5G network, which includes stationary and mobile radars, cameras, and autonomous vehicles. A statement said: “[The solution] allows us to respond to threats from ships and drones in real time… Sensors connected via 5G can transmit enormous amounts of data with minimal delay and high reliability, essential for immediate identification of and response to threats.”

The new 5G network also supports remote-controlled offshore aerial drones (UAVs) and surface (or boat) drones (USVs). The group said AI is an “essential part” of the security system, too. It stated: “AI is often perceived as a ‘black box’ provided by cloud services, which can pose security challenges. The great value of this project is that it solves these security challenges by using advanced on-device AI that can be deployed on remote off-shore infrastructures, and is ideally suited for industrial use.”

The consortium explained: “The AI ​​algorithms analyse the enormous data streams from the 5G sensor network, identifying potential threats at lightning speed. These are forwarded to the Security Operations Center (SOC), where specialised teams can assess the situation and take action. The SOC serves as the cockpit of the entire operation, where all data is accurately analysed and the control of USVs and UAVs is coordinated. All this happens remotely, via the robust 5G network that guarantees a fast and effective response to any threat.”


5G to reach 55% of mobile connections in LatAm by 2030: GSMA

By 2025, 5G technology will account for 14% of the region’s overall mobile connections, according to the GSMA report

5G is forecast to reach 55% of the total mobile connections in Latin America by 2030, up from a current penetration of around 5%, according to a recent report by telecom association GSMA.

By 2025, 5G technology will account for 14% of the region’s overall mobile connections, according to the GSMA report.

The report also revealed that the region will have a total of 425 million subscribers in the 5G segment by the end of the decade.

“By that time, 5G technology will represent a two-digit portion of the total connections in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Guatemala and Uruguay. In the second half of the decade, 5G adoption will rise sharply as new 5G markets emerge and existing 5G networks expand to new areas,” the report stated.

As of April 2024, a total of 29 operators in 10 countries had already launched commercial 5G services across the region. “Many others have planned do it in the coming years. For those who are pioneers, 5G adoption is reaching mass market levels. For example, Movistar Chile revealed at MWC Barcelona 2024 that it had surpassed 1.5 million 5G customers, equivalent to almost a fifth of its total mobile connections,” the report added.

GSMA also noted that the first 5G use cases in Latin America relate to enhanced mobile broadband services (eMBB) and fixed wireless access (FWA) to meet the growing demand for connectivity.

5G technology is expected to contribute with $70 billion to the Latin American economy in 2030, which will represent almost 11% of the total economic impact of the mobile sector, according to the report. “Much of this benefit will materialize during the second half of the decade. Some countries are in the early stages of deployment, which means that the benefits will increase as the technology begins to scale.”

By 2030, Brazil is expected to be the country with the highest penetration of 5G as this technology will account for 78% of the country’s overall mobile base, according to the report. In 2023, 5G technology accounted for 9% of the country’s overall mobile base.

The GSMA report showed that 5G penetration in the Mexican market is expected to reach 62% by 2030, up compared to a penetration of 6% last year.

Meanwhile, the report also stated that 5G penetration in Argentina is expected to reach 46% by 2030. 5G penetration had reached 2% of all mobile connections in Argentina last year, according to the GSMA report.


Nokia holds test call using 3D spatial audio codec from 5G-Advanced spec

Nokia said it has held the world’s first live immersive voice and audio call using a codec outlined in the 5G-Advanced specification. The Finnish vendor is a major contributor to the new Immersive Voice and Audio Services (IVAS) codec, which enables spatial audio transmission in real time over voice calls.

IVAS supports live spatial audio from connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.  When enabled, the listener should be able to perceive the location of each sound, as audio will be played as if it is coming from behind, above, or adjacent to the listener. For this test call, Nokia used its proprietary immersive voice kit to transmit IVAS-encoded voice data over a public 5G network, connecting Nokia president CEO Pekka Lundmark on one side to Finland’s ambassador for new technologies Stefan Lindstrom.

The codec’s development is being spearheaded by thirteen companies under 3GPP’s public collaboration mandate. Nokia aims to bring leadership to these efforts and says it contributed foundational technologies, including a codec container specific to smartphones. Native smartphone support could pave the way for true interoperability across operators, chipset and handset manufacturers, greatly expanding IVAS’s user base.

The low-delay codec was adopted by 3GPP’s SA4 benchmark committee as meeting its selection criteria. 3GPP says it aims to introduce an updated standard for voice services once every decade. In 2014, for example, it introduced 20 kHz audio calls with the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec in VoLTE and VoNR, reducing jitter effects and sharpening call quality. IVAS is designed to be back-compatible with EVS-based infrastructure.

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