Sponsored By

Telcos Need Enterprise Schooling to Seize Private Network Opportunity

To profit from the private network opportunity, operators need to become experts on the needs and business drivers of their enterprise customers.

Mitch Wagner

November 25, 2019

4 Min Read
Telcos Need Enterprise Schooling to Seize Private Network Opportunity

Service providers need to become enterprise experts to profit from the private networking opportunity.

Until now, service providers have mostly focused on delivering WAN connectivity -- their expertise ended at the edge of the enterprise customer premises. But private networks give service providers an opportunity to become experts at on-premises networks as well, to become partners in enterprise customers' digital transformation.

That market already exists but is set to grow: According to research house Mobile Experts, the private wireless networks sector was already worth more than $1.5 billion in 2018 and is forecast to be worth $3.4 billion by 2024. Other analysts put a much higher value on the market opportunity -- ABI Research reckons it will be worth $16.3 billion by 2025, for example.

Whatever the value, the spoils will be hard fought over as wireless operators, vendors and system integrators battle to be the prime partners of major enterprises: Nokia, for example, is currently reaping the rewards of some early focus on the needs of private network operators.

For network operators to cash in, they need to develop that expertise for business success in the era of private networks.

"It used to be that when we looked at networks, we were outside in. Now we can go inside out," Derek Peterson, Boingo Wireless CTO, said on a panel at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles last month.

Verizon stays on top of its enterprise customer needs by channeling information and insight from the service provider's own sales teams, said panelist Justin Blair, Verizon executive director. Verizon also goes to transportation and other vertical industry events, and visits customer facilities. Visiting a rail yard or manufacturing facility can be highly educational about what customers actually need from connectivity.

Service providers need to learn to speak their customers' language, Blair says. "We may have the best thing they need and they may know they need it, but they won't get it if we don't speak their language," he said.

Figure 1: Boingo Wireless's Derek Peterson (left); Ericsson's Manuel Ruiz, Verizon's Justin Blair and GSMA's Peter Jarich and his socks. Boingo Wireless's Derek Peterson (left); Ericsson's Manuel Ruiz, Verizon's Justin Blair and GSMA's Peter Jarich and his socks.

Now entering its sixth year, the 2020 Vision Executive Summit is an exclusive meeting of global service provider executives focused on navigating the disruptive forces at work in telecom today. Join us in Vienna on December 3-5 to meet with fellow senior communications executives as we define the future of next-gen communications and how to make it profitable.

Enterprise IT is just starting to learn their own business needs -- as opposed to being technology focused -- and service providers need to follow that lead, Peterson said. "Every industry has IT getting out of the closet or out of the basement. When IT gets out of the basement and starts looking at the business, it's a good thing," he said.

What's driving private network acceptance?
Private networks are gaining market acceptance as emerging technologies such as virtualized networks and new 5G standards make them more practical, said GSMA Intelligence head Peter Jarich.

"There's definitely an allure to 5G. People want to put everything on 5G," noted Verizon's Blair. LTE and WiFi can be useful, but for advanced applications such as computer vision and virtual reality, 5G can deliver enhanced capabilities.

But service providers shouldn't wait for 5G before deploying private networks, Peterson says. They should start with available technology and add 5G when it becomes practical. "As we improve we'll go down the journey and add more and more connectivity," Peterson said.

WiFi and cellular service will play together on some private networks, depending on the vertical, Blair said. Verticals with existing WiFi will continue to use that in many cases, but some use cases will require LTE or 5G.

"We're not just connecting things that are wireless today with different wireless technology," Blair said. "We're saying, 'imagine a world without wires. What are you wiring today that you hate wiring?'"

Identity is key to achieving coexistence between multiple types of networks, including WiFi. Devices need to be tied to individual identities, and then it will become simpler to move from one network to another, between public and private, WiFi and cellular, Peterson said.

Related posts:

— Mitch Wagner Visit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on TwitterJoin my Facebook GroupRead my blog: Things Mitch Wagner Saw Executive Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like