opinion


Is 2022 the year of private networks?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Marisa Viveros, VP, Strategy and Offerings, Global Telecom Industry, IBM reflects on a big year for private networks.

While private networks aren’t new, there’s been a rise in use cases of private networks among enterprises, especially in industries like manufacturing and agriculture. Private 5G networks allow companies to manage all of their devices, services, and assets in a more secure and efficient way, all while having more control of their network. With the rise of security and regulatory concerns, it is no surprise private network adoption is on the upswing. With enterprises facing the need for accelerated digitization and 5G designed to provide solutions for these obstacles, this could be the year of private networks.

Industry Challenges

The telco industry is currently facing many roadblocks and challenges, such as reliable coverage, higher bandwidth, speed and security. When unmet, these challenges pose very real financial, regulatory and privacy risks. On the other hand, companies can obtain significant competitive advantage if they’re all met. Security, in particular, continues to rise in priority, with weekly corporate cybersecurity attacks up 50% last year alone. Even with the increase in cybersecurity concerns, more demand for operation efficiency has created a tightrope walk for enterprises. To become more streamlined and efficient, companies have started investing in industrial IoT that connects and automates machines, and with this, 45% of manufacturing executives expect higher efficiency. One way to address these challenges is by adopting private 5G networks.

Here’s an overview of industry challenges and how private 5G networks can help:

Reliable Coverage & Higher Bandwidth: Companies like manufacturers cannot rely on a typical, public Wi-Fi network to monitor all of their machines, computers, monitors, etc. If a company’s public network had an outage, production is automatically halted, shipments could be delayed, and companies could lose significant revenue.

Speed: Similar to coverage and connectivity, speed is a crucial factor of operational efficiency. Slow connection and lagging mean a company is not operating at an ideal or full capacity. Clearly, success should not depend on things like network speed, but this is an industry-wide issue nevertheless.

Security: Public networks also do not provide enough security for an enterprise’s data and sensitive information. According to a recent IBM Security report, the global average cost of a data breach has reached an all-time high of $4.35 million USD. Having a serious data breach can take a major hit on a company’s finances, and it also affects the consumer’s loyalty, trust, and future purchases.

Besides just providing solutions to these challenges, private networks also allow new technologies and immersive experiences like AR/VR to fully take off. These challenges are not just bottlenecks, nor do they cause minor setbacks or frustrations for employees. Rather, these challenges can be a real threat to consumers and the overall success of the company.

Private 5G Network Opportunities

Enterprises have started adopting private networks powered by 5G to avoid these security and efficiency challenges. As companies realize this new solution to their existing challenges, we have seen an influx of cross-industry partnerships. This doesn’t stop at manufacturing business either; these solutions are relevant across several industries.

Bharti Airtel recently announced they are bringing private cloud enabled by 5G to power enterprises in India. This is an example of how the power and emergence of 5G had led to the emergence of private networks. Airtel will enable companies to set up private networks for Indian businesses so they can better meet regulatory and demand requirements.

A New Era

The new era of 5G not only ushers in an era of private networks, but also an era of cross-industry partnerships and coordination. If enterprises use private networks, they no longer have to rely on unstable connectivity, latency, and lack of security that come with using public Wi-Fi networks. For all of these reasons, IBM believes that this is the year for private networks.

 

Marisa is a vice president at IBM, leading strategy and solutions for the global telco industry. She is responsible for creating a portfolio of solutions to address the needs of clients as it relates to digital transformation, networks, optimizing core business functions and creating new services. She’s held leadership roles at IBM the past twelve years and has spoken at key industry events including Mobile World Congress and Open Networking and Edge Summit.

Marisa is a member of the IBM Industry Academy, the Linux Foundation Networking Governing Board, the Advisory Board for TM Forum Open Digital Framework. She has been recognized in HITEC Top 100 as among the most influential and notable Hispanic Professionals in the IT Industry in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. Marisa started her career in 2010 at IBM Research, one of the largest industrial research institutions in the world.

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