Will IoT Devices Be Compatible with Private LTE and Private 5G?
By Safi Khan
July 17, 2020
Private LTE is a scaled-down version of the public cellular network with all the same components defined by 3GPP standards. It must abide by those standards, so it retains the look and feel of a public LTE network but covers a smaller, private area and fewer users. Instead of all data going back to the central core of a mobile network operator, it stays local, and the evolved packet core (EPC) can be implemented in a server on the premises. Keeping the data on the premises adds a layer of security and control that many enterprises desire.
Led by the CBRS Alliance’s OnGo service’s success since its launch in September 2019, North America is expected to become one of the highest growth areas for the private LTE/5G market over the next several years. Many OEMs are producing devices that support CBRS Band 48 for use in North America and creating products that support private LTE/5G bands in other areas of the world, such as Bands 42 and 43.
Traditionally, private LTE has been an enterprise-level operation because of the costs of deploying a private network. However, with the introduction of unlicensed bands, that cost is diminished, and private LTE is within reach for many additional emerging markets.
Markets for Private LTE and Private 5G IoT Devices
The market growth is fueling a new private LTE/5G ecosystem that empowers OEMs to produce many devices for a variety of verticals. Sectors have different needs based on use cases, so the ecosystem of each will vary. Here’s a closer look at how the private LTE/5G ecosystem is evolving in several key industries:
Industrial and Manufacturing
The industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) involves multiple devices, from low-power sensors to robots. Private LTE/5G provides stable support for IIoT devices and the high volume of data they generate. As OEMs develop devices around AI and machine learning, fast, local connectivity will be particularly crucial for powering real-time applications.
Oil and Gas
Often located in remote areas offshore or underground, oil and gas operations require robust coverage to keep devices online. Private LTE/5G can offer better performance, coverage and security than Wi-Fi without the typical costs of high data transfer volume over public cellular. With better coverage becoming standard at oil and gas sites, OEMs will develop sensors and edge devices equipped with more complex sophisticated capabilities, allowing industry leaders to make better decisions in real time.
Transportation Venues: Airports and Seaports
Like oil and gas operations, seaports are outdoor settings prone to Wi-Fi connectivity gaps. While most people envision airports as indoor terminals, they also include large outdoor spaces with a growing potential for connected devices and sensors on fuel trucks, aircraft, runways and beacons. Private LTE/5G networks can significantly reduce downtime, ensuring that all devices stay connected while requiring far fewer base stations. This climate of dependable connectivity allows OEMs to develop more sophisticated, versatile devices.
Power plants are spread across spacious areas and sometimes outdoors like other industrial sites, making them ideal venues for private LTE/5G. IoT devices are powering the remote monitoring of turbines and other machinery. As more data is gathered, the power of private LTE/5G for enhanced bandwidth and uptime will allow OEMs to design more complex devices for real-time data analysis.
As the industry moves toward the adoption of autonomous systems, mining sites will benefit significantly from private LTE/5G. Mining operations employ a growing number of IoT devices, including AI-enabled equipment such as earthmovers, drilling systems and vehicles. Other connected equipment pivotal to autonomous mining includes GPS locators , video surveillance and telemetry systems.
Healthcare facilities are held to tight regulations around data privacy. Since private networks keep data onsite, it offers a more robust firewall, and LTE is more secure than Wi-Fi, making it a popular choice for connectivity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations have also recognized a growing need for mobile connectivity in situations such as field hospitals and pop-up clinics. As private LTE/5G is more stable in outdoor settings and requires fewer base stations to provide more coverage with lower latency than Wi-Fi, it’s often a better option for remote areas. This flexibility creates a fertile environment for OEMs looking to develop telehealth sensors, such as connected blood sugar meters, digital thermometers and inhalers, that relay data to providers in real time.
University and school campuses are spread over vast areas and include both outdoor and indoor venues, making Wi-Fi coverage difficult to guarantee everywhere. A private LTE/5G network can augment connectivity on campus and enable the use of devices that require high bandwidth and low latency, such as collaborative technology, videoconferencing tools, geofencing, infrastructure monitoring and more.
Large Retail and Public Venues
Stadiums, shopping malls and other large public venues may benefit from the introduction of a private LTE/5G network to enhance connectivity. In addition to providing access for visitors’ devices, the network can power a growing ecosystem of connected devices, including digital signage, way-finding tools, video cameras and security systems.
As private LTE/5G networks expand, pioneered by efforts like CBRS OnGo in North America, OEMs worldwide can produce compatible devices for use across a vast swath of industrial and commercial verticals. While Wi-Fi will continue to be part of connectivity for most industries — especially with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6 — private LTE/5G will play an essential role for particular use cases in which it will rival the performance of wired LANs.
Telit: An Industry-Leading Expert in Private LTE
Telit, a global enabler of the Internet of Things (IoT), has vetted experience helping organizations support the development, commercialization and adoption of LTE and 5G solutions. Telit was the first top-tier IoT and mobile broadband module vendor to join the CBRS Alliance to help drive innovation and the adoption of private LTE/5G networks, giving enterprises new options for site, campus and office wireless networking.
Contact us today to find out how we can help bring your organization a full-suite IoT solution.