You’ve heard it all before. Telcos are trapped between rising traffic, shrinking margins, and flat revenue but—wait!—5G will come to the rescue with new revenue-generating services. And while 5G does have a world of potential, telcos can’t afford to wait for a future that may take years to arrive – but you don’t need to wait any longer, thanks to private LTE networks.
We believe that 5G will be a game-changer. But it could initially play out like a waiting game, as mobile operators analyze various business cases. Autonomous vehicles, for example, are a great idea, but who makes the first move? Is it companies that put 5G chips in their cars in anticipation of a ubiquitous 5G network, or operators that need to unroll a reliable 5G fabric before car manufacturers commit to wireless control?
While the world waits for 5G to arrive—in networks, smartphones, IoT devices, etc.—LTE is already in place. So, here’s food for thought: What if operators and enterprises could monetize private networks right now in the same way they plan to monetize 5G networks? That is, by partnering to create value-added services for its customers through a private LTE network.
Private LTE Networks Presents an Opportunity for MNOs
Think about it: Private LTE networks present a great opportunity. Right now, network demands are on an upward curve and they’re only going to get higher. Mobile network operators find themselves in the middle, a pipeline between ravenous content consumers and profitable over-the-top content providers. As the air interface technology increases bandwidth at one end of the pipe (i.e., higher consumption or more product to consume), operators have to increase the size of their pipe between the radio and the content, which means more coverage, more capacity, more complexity, etc. But, importantly, not more money for the telco operators.
What if telco operators could create a better network experience by pushing network communications out to the edge of the network? Then operators would only need to expand capacity at the edge to deliver high-speed, low-latency services, rather than upgrading their entire network from end to end. Then, when 5G finally does arrive, the private LTE services can be seamlessly integrated into the 5G architecture to continue monetizing those services.
Private LTE Networks vs. Wi-Fi Networks
Private LTE networks are similar to Wi-Fi networks in some ways but with a few very important distinctions. Here are the differences between Private LTE vs. Wi-Fi:
- Unlicensed Spectrum: Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum, which opens the door to all sorts of RF pollution and compromised quality.
- Security: A mobile LTE network delivers a higher level of security than a Wi-Fi network.
- Time & Effort: Running a large-scale Wi-Fi network is hard work; most enterprises don’t want to get into the business of RF planning.
Enterprises understand the value of having a better mobile experience closer to their end users, whether that user is in a store or in their home. That experience should include enforceable SLAs—something that you can’t get with unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum but you can get with licensed LTE spectrum—as well as security and managed services.
Unlike consumer smartphone services, enterprise services are easier for operators to monetize, particularly when they’re aligned with a clear business case. For example, a private LTE network that delivers a better video experience would be valuable to a content provider’s audience and, thus, potentially profitable. An operator could deploy that extra edge capacity for HD video consumers as part of a revenue-sharing plan with the content provider. Best of all, when 5G finally does arrive, you’re already engaged with enterprises in delivering next-gen services—a relationship you can build on with the advances that 5G will bring.
There’s actually a lot that enterprises can do with a private LTE network right now—and that’s the topic of my next blog. Learn more about Affirmed Networks NFV solutions.