While the debate continues regarding the various network protocols and approaches in the context of supporting industrial applications and infrastructure, there is no debate about the potential for 5G and the opening of CBRS bands in the United States to replace complex, expensive, and risky networking wit solutions that inherently are simpler, and deliver higher speeds and optimization software that leads to greater network transparency and control.
While different solution and service providers call secure, private connectivity for Industrial IoT different names (from P-LTE to Enterprise 5G), the value of spectrum in supporting industrial innovation where connected systems are improving safety, security, and business outcomes is understood as profound in industrial sectors, especially those where physical infrastructure is distributed and located in remote settings.
For enterprises wishing to deploy a private IoT network, cellular solutions offer significant connectivity advantages over other wireless technologies, including LoRaWAN. LTE is more secure, can cover much larger areas, and can provide low-latency and high data rates.
Private wireless networks do, however, have disadvantages over LoRaWAN/LPWAN solutions: they use more power and are more expensive to deploy and maintain. Also, devices using cellular networks need more expensive modems to operate; therefore, they can be costly compared to other offerings.
Devices using the relatively new low-power LTE IoT offerings, Cat-NB Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Class M LTE (LTE-M), consume more power than a LoRaWAN powered device, and based on simple physics alone, NB-IoT has a lower latency compared to LoRa given the difference in power consumption at the network edge.
Until recently, the use of licensed bands has been one of the top barriers to the massive deployment of private LTE offerings. Fortunately, because of the pressure from several industries, many governments around the world are now releasing more spectrum specifically for IoT and Industry 4.0 applications. Also, some mobile operators are offering private LTE solutions for large industrial areas using their existing licenses.
As the availability of 5G networks continues to surge, some innovators are creating Enterprise 5G solutions using unlicensed spectrum; in the U.S., that spectrum is categorized as CBRS, an acronym for Citizens Broadband Radio Service, and the upshot for I.T. pros is that it’s enabling enterprises to build their own private 4G/5G networks, while also resulting in improved 4G/5G offerings from service providers.
CBRS is made up of 150 MHZ of the 3.5 GHz band that reaches 3.7 GHz, with some frequencies meeting the Priority Access License (PAL) criteria and others meeting the General Authorized Access (GAA) criteria.
Typically, exclusive rights to the band have been held by satellite ground stations and the U.S. Navy. However, after being authorized by the FCC on January 27, 2020, priority licenses were made available and auctioned off on June 25 to carriers building better and more effective broadband networks capable of supporting 5G, improving the offerings from service providers.
Disruptive companies have entered the playing field, including JpU, a company that has implemented dozens of solutions in the U.S. and abroad,
They are building ecosystems to support industrial innovation and Industry 4.0 infrastructure solutions with hardware, software, engineering, system integration, and go-to-market partners, including IoT and Industrial IoT solution companies MVNOs and others.
“CBRS is a game-changer,” said Roy Timor-Rousso, CRO at JpU, whose focus across verticals including manufacturing, transportation, energy, education, and utilities has driven their go-to-market strategy, said, “we’re taking efficiency to the next level, bringing high performance, resilient and affordable broadband to both outdoor and indoor environments. This is ideal for the corporations involved as the CBRS band offers significantly improved network capabilities compared to traditional networks. With the new spectrums made available, the CBRS band can benefit enterprises with mobile networks that can be built within hours. These 5G networks can be used to address some of the largest networking challenges faced by traditional wireless service providers and their business customers.”
Common benefits of approaches like those JpU and other non-traditional companies include reduced latency, minimalized interference, greater security, faster speeds, and consistent availability – with no wires needed.
“Our next-era network has advanced routing and continuity built into a software and cloud-based platform, giving enterprises complete control of indoor and outdoor connectivity with a management interface that is easy for I.T. and O.T. teams to use,” Timor-Rousso said. “Not only are 5G enterprise networks simpler to build, operate and scale, they are less complex and therefore less costly. The OPEX business model is parallel to cloud services, requiring no cabling infrastructure, no vendor lock-in given the open RAN architecture, and more choice especially when it comes to edge computing and edge applications.”
Timor-Rousso also said there are also opportunities for government agencies to become service providers as “neutral host” models become more popular. “A municipality – a group of municipalities – counties and even state-wide consortiums can now build their own private 5G networks to support services for the public as part of digital-physical infrastructure modernization and generate substantial new revenues which enrich the communities they serve. We are in discussions with visionary leaders who understand the new calculus – investment in 5G private networking as a service with a return on that investment that could reduce taxpayers’ burdens for decades to come. The innovation is not only in technology but in financial models.”
Timor-Rousso explained that JpU is working with leaders in the U.S. who see the tight connection between access to private 5G and innovation, for example, start-ups who are inventing better ways to grow food, reduce energy and water consumption, and create new jobs. “With access to secure, fast, and affordable wireless broadband everywhere – including the most rural locations – there are no challenges Americans can’t tackle, and the impact of making this available across the country will not only assist in the recovery but will light the way for long-term prosperity.”