In recent months, Private LTE has gained significant traction and is positioned to play a unique role in the world of wireless LAN. As more enterprises consider deploying the fixed cost network in their facilities, it’s important to understand best use cases, applications, and options, according to Alex Besen Founder and CEO of The Besen Group.
“It’s crucial for any enterprise considering launching a private LTE network to understand their use case and identify which spectrum band – licensed, shared, or unlicensed – is best suited for their applications,” said Besen in an interview with Connected Real Estate Magazine.
The Besen Group, which offers Private LTE consulting services, training seminars, and market research directly to enterprise clients has more than 20 years of hands-on experience with telecom industry ecosystem operators and vendors.
Private LTE networks were initially adopted by the utilities and mining sectors, primarily due to the secure and reliable digital connectivity offered for IoT devices in remote areas.
Now with the release of CBRS shared spectrum, Private LTE is getting a second look by other mission-critical applications such as warehousing, shipping, and transportation.
A Private LTE network essentially leverages micro towers and small cells similar to a Wi-Fi access point on-site to replicate the larger public network. Private LTE can use licensed, unlicensed, or shared spectrum. For enterprises considering Private LTE, the first step should be determining whether the network is your best option based on your enterprise use case says, Besen.
Private LTE networks deliver better performance and coverage than Wi-Fi and are more secure, faster to deploy because they do not need to be tested and certified by the Mobile Network Operator, and cost less to administer and maintain than Wi-Fi networks.
Safety monitoring, CCTV cameras, transport systems, and smart city applications are well suited for Private LTE, Besen said.
In large public spaces and transportation hubs like airports and train stations, Private LTE networks can be used for both for machine-to-machine applications and to enhance occupant cellular experiences.
Private LTE Cost Analysis
One of the primary advantages to Private LTE networks is the substantially lower cost of ownership compared with WiFi, which requires extensive and expensive wired line installation and a much deeper investment in access points. Private LTE owners also generally do not pay for data transmission fees.
While Private LTE pricing varies based on the vendor, these savings can be significant, says Besen.
According to estimates by the Besen Group, Charter’s Private LTE network, designed to offload traffic to CBRS and improve the customer experience while reducing wholesale costs, is estimated to save $11.44 per subscriber. Based on a calculation of one million subscribers, the savings could be in the tens of millions of dollars.
However, some key network architecture considerations should be vetted when it comes to applications used to enhance in-building occupant cellular experience.
“While you can use Private LTE to host both machine-to-machine IoT connectivity and an occupant cellular network, a different network architecture is required for consumer based cellular applications,” said Besen.
The critical difference is that a Private LTE network is designed for device-to-device data communication, but when you offer it to subscribers, a network infrastructure for voice service needs to be built, and there’s also the need to do an interconnection with the carriers, Besen said.
Since most building owners and enterprises are not in the network design business, they should consider neutral host providers to build the infrastructure. The most natural path is to sign agreements with managed service providers who can build the network and set-up agreements with carriers.
However, the CBRS shared spectrum is not the only option that building owners should be looking at Besen says.
“Globalstar’s Band 53 is also an excellent option for in-building wireless. A licensed spectrum will give building owners better propagation,” Besen said.
Airwavz Solutions, which recently announced that it gained exclusive rights to use Globalstar’s Band 53 and currently has two pilot programs underway, may also be an excellent option for in-building wireless.
The bottom-line for building owners is to make sure to understand their use cases and vet all options before deciding on a network.