Private wireless networks are increasingly being adopted by enterprises in need of reliable and secure connectivity solutions tailored to their specific needs.
While some deployments are straightforward, many enterprises have more complex use cases that require thoughtful implementations. Often, these enterprises prefer to begin their journey with private wireless with a starter deployment or innovation network to test use cases and optimize the network before investing in a full-scale deployment.
In this article, we discuss the key learnings from a starter deployment that can help enterprise customers make informed decisions about how to leverage private wireless.
One of the main benefits of a starter deployment is that customers can truly see the performance of the network for their applications of interest with a relatively small investment.
During this time, the network can be optimized in terms of device and application configurations to ensure the targeted use cases are successful. For example, adjustments can be made to data rates or downlink-uplink bandwidth splits to optimize performance for download- or upload-heavy operations. In some cases, end-to-end latencies across the private network can be optimized to improve application performance for real-time operations, such as warehouse automation that uses state-of-the-art robotics.
Another important area of learning is IT integration. Enterprise customers often have clear do’s and don’ts related to Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) isolation, routing, virtual private network (VPN) access, and other security-related requirements. Private network providers work closely with customers to deploy a network that is fully aligned with their security guidelines to mitigate any potential disruption.
IT integration for a private network also includes edge compute and storage, which is becoming increasingly important as more applications, such as on-premises video analysis, run on edge compute appliances. Private networks offer a secure solution for transporting data between end-user or client devices and enterprise edge compute and storage without data having to leave the enterprise network. A starter network provides an opportunity to optimize such integration.
Integrating with customers’ workflows for managing and operating the network is yet another critical area of learning from a starter deployment. This includes the enterprise IT owner understanding the support provided for the network, establishing secure access for troubleshooting and maintenance, and familiarization with any “hooks and knobs” needed for operational technology (OT) needs. As private networks become more widely adopted across industries, the learnings described above can be shared as best practices and reference templates to benefit similar deployments at scale.
Ubiquitous coverage with good capacity performance is another key benefit of private wireless networks. While initial RF and network planning go a long way toward achieving this goal, a starter network allows for on-the-ground optimization to fine-tune coverage for unique RF propagation characteristics that are hard to address through statistical planning tools. This coverage fine-tuning also applies to mobility, which is an inherent strength of private wireless networks based on cellular technologies.
Private networks offer enterprise customers the flexibility to deploy 4G or 5G connectivity to meet their requirements. While 5G has garnered a lot of interest, a mature 4G network and device ecosystem can deliver many of the same benefits. A starter network allows customers to understand what 5G capabilities they truly need today and what they can adequately achieve with a 4G network.
In many enterprise deployments, private networks complement existing investments in Wi-Fi connectivity or mobile network operator (MNO) contracts. A starter network allows customers to partition workloads across these investments in a thoughtful manner, where they may use a a private network to support new workloads and, in some cases, replace existing connectivity solutions that are not working well with the more cost-effective high-performance private network option.
In conclusion, a starter deployment or innovation network can provide enterprise customers with valuable insights and learnings that enable them to make informed decisions when deploying private wireless networks. By starting small, starting fast, and scaling smart, customers can optimize the network for their specific needs and achieve reliable and secure connectivity that meets their requirements.
Learn more about how a Federated Wireless innovation network became the on-ramp to 5G at Cal Poly University.