Seizing the shared spectrum opportunity
Ofcom announced the availability of shared spectrum licences in the UK towards the end of last year, a huge opportunity opened up for communications service providers (CSPs) to further support their enterprise customers by enabling individual, private and secure networks.
Both 4G and 5G are creating the potential to develop new business and revenue streams, says Paul Alexander, sales director, Service Provider Customers, Nokia UK. This shared spectrum gives CSPs the means to increase their own commercial success by pursuing deeper relationships with business-to-business (B2B) / enterprise customers and enhancing their business operations through the deployment of private networks.
Leveraging both technology generations, these private networks deliver company and campus-specific communications, interconnecting across different locations if required, enabling completely self-contained communications systems over which the enterprise has full control.
Prior to the availability of this shared spectrum, the options for fully private wireless enterprise networks were either to deploy specifically designed narrowband technologies that cannot support broadband data requirements, or systems run over Wi-Fi that can be expensive and disruptive to install and difficult to secure.
For enterprise customers
The combination of access to spectrum and the latest enhancements to 5G will deliver the means for CSPs to revolutionise the service they provide to enterprise customers. 5G’s ultra-reliable low latency means that network elements such as smart sensors can be connected at speeds that enable real-time data analysis. This is the advent of the IoT at industrial scale, with network density enabling millions of devices and sensors to be connected within a small footprint.
Private 4G/5G networks deliver complete flexibility – virtually anything can be connected, creating a seamless system that monitors, controls and protects assets and enables personnel to communicate securely. Constant and accurate location information brings enhanced safeguarding, not only for the security of physical equipment but for employees too, for example if they are working in hazardous conditions.
These private networks are designed to support the most demanding scenarios that require real time data, including AI, AR, autonomous operations, robotics, and smart sensors. All data, its management, processing and analysis is kept within the private network and self-contained applications can be deployed to support a myriad of operational enhancements including smart manufacturing and predictive maintenance.
At Nokia we have established use case references spanning many sectors including energy, construction, transportation, public safety, military and manufacturing and logistics. Our factory in Oulu, Finland uses our own technology to increase operational efficiency. This approach has generated productivity gains of 30% and delivered 50% savings in terms of product delivery time to market – and resulted in the World Economic Forum and McKinsey selecting the Oulu site as an Advanced 4th Industrial Revolution Lighthouse.
Delivering these kinds of results for enterprises is where CSPs should be focusing their efforts. This level of capability in a private wireless network is critical for enterprises looking for true digital transformation in their operations, and it is a capability that the CSPs can and must provide.
At Nokia we commissioned an independent survey through ABI Research, where more than 600 manufacturing decision makers were asked about their investment strategies related to 4G, 5G and the future of their industry. The survey found that almost three-quarters of respondents are planning to upgrade their communications and control networks in the next two/three years. More than 90% of those are looking at 4G and/or 5G to enhance their operations – and more than 80% of those say they will deploy a private wireless network.
This is the CSP enterprise customer base, clearly ready to take advantage of the business benefits of private wireless networks. Organisations that do not have private means of communication can immediately enhance their business operations by leveraging the most advanced systems available. Those with an existing network of some kind can upgrade to a completely secure, self-contained network on private spectrum.
The availability of super-fast, secure and low latency connectivity will underpin the transformation of today’s businesses. There is clearly an appetite for change, one that is opening up new avenues for CSPs to create mutually beneficial partnerships and drive the future success of the enterprise market.
For more information from Ofcom on the licences and process for application please see this document.
The author is Paul Alexander, sales director, Service Provider Customers, Nokia UK.