At present, 5g network construction has entered the fast lane, and public communication network (hereinafter referred to as public network) is developing rapidly in an unprecedented situation. In daily life, people use mobile phones to make calls and browse information on the web, with the help of the public network. However, with the changing application requirements of various industries, some enterprises hope to obtain all the control rights, high reliability, security, privacy, etc. of 5g network, and the public network can not fully meet these specific requirements.

To leverage the 5gtob market, it is necessary to deploy 5g private network for the industry. Deployment of 5g private network is an indispensable means for vertical industries to promote 5g innovative application, expand production efficiency and speed up digital transformation. 5g private network is a kind of local area network (LAN). It is a special network created by using 5g technology, which has unified connectivity, optimized service function and ensures communication security in a specific area. It provides professional communication services for specific users in organization, management, production, scheduling and other links.

5g era, facing the new opportunities of private network market, who is the promoter of 5g private network? Who will build a solid rear for 5g applications? Which technology can drive 5g private network to realize intelligence and cloud?

New private network, new opportunities, 5gtob at the right time

With the development of economy and society, as well as public security incidents in the world wide attention, the application of private network communication equipment is increasingly popular, the global private network communication market will continue to develop steadily. However, it is worth noting that the concept of private network is not unique in the 5g era. As early as the 2G / 3G / 4G era, the private network has been applied. Why is there such a debate as “building a private network or a public network” in the 5g era?

New private network, new opportunities, 5g to B

The reason is that before the 4G era, due to the limitations of the network itself, the “skills” of the private network could not be brought into full play. In the 5g era, the characteristics of large bandwidth (embB), high reliability and low latency (urllc) and wide connection (mmtc) (especially the latter two) make it possible for everything to be interconnected, “private network” plays a prominent role, which provides conditions for traditional industries to realize “intelligent” and “digital” transformation.

As we all know, the biggest value of 5g is tob. Miao Wei, former Minister of the Ministry of industry and information technology, said recently that about 20% of 5g application scenarios are TOC and 80% are tob. To leverage the 5g tob market, we have to deploy 5g private network for the industry. According to the forecast of Grandview research, the global 5g private network market will reach US $919.7 million in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 37.8% from 2020 to 2027. And by 2036, global 5g private network spending will exceed 5g public network.

In the countries with mature public network development, the private network development has also achieved a certain scale, and has produced good economic benefits. Take Germany, the European manufacturing power, as an example. It not only allocates 3.7GHz ~ 3.8ghz dedicated frequency band for 5g private network, but also opens ten-year application for use right to enterprise users in November 2019, mainly for Industry 4.0, agriculture and forestry. At present, 33 companies such as Bosch, BMW, Volkswagen, BASF and Lufthansa have applied for 5g band.

In China, 5g private network mainly relies on the network frequency band construction of operators. For example, through the 5g band from 4.8ghz to 4.9ghz, China Mobile has cooperated with Haier to build a smart factory and Baotou Steel to build a smart mine and other private network projects; With the help of China Telecom’s high-quality intranet, the enterprise efficiency of China Aviation Development southern company has been greatly improved; The first 5g cross domain Internet of things private network of China Unicom was opened in Sany intelligent mine; The first 700MHz power 5g private network of China’s Radio and television industry has also been launched in Shaanxi recently. So far, 5g private network projects of the four major operators have been launched.

It is worth mentioning that on March 24, 2020, the Ministry of industry and information technology issued the “notice on promoting the accelerated development of 5g”, proposing to organize and carry out the research and pilot of 5g industry virtual private network, and get through the key links such as standards, technology, application and deployment. A series of policies and measures issued by the state have played a positive role in promoting the implementation of 5g private network.

In a word, for most enterprises, the integrated deployment of 5g public network and private network can shorten the construction period and greatly reduce the cost. IDC, a market research organization, predicts that by 2023, 60% of China’s top 1000 vertical industries (such as manufacturing, logistics, etc.) will carry out applications based on 5g private network, so as to ensure data controllability and security.

“Special frequency” or “slice”? The two paths have their own advantages and disadvantages

Although the industry has realized the importance of 5g private network construction, 5g private network construction is still facing many challenges. The first is the problem of spectrum. Spectrum resources are limited. In most countries, the competent authorities allocate resources according to the needs of the industry; Secondly, the networking mode of 5g private network, MEC, network slicing and other technologies are still in the active exploration stage, so the cost of network construction and operation and maintenance is high; Thirdly, the 5g industrial chain is not mature, the stability of industrial terminals and modules needs to be improved, and the price also has a certain space to decline; Finally, the business model and application cases are still limited.

At present, many industrial enterprises want to have a completely independent network, and many countries have also adopted the method of dividing dedicated spectrum resources for the industry. At the same time, operators are more and more willing to rent frequency bands to industry customers to keep up with the rapid development of the market. It is not difficult to find that 5g private network has two branches in theory: one is that operators directly transmit users’ data to users’ intranet through network slicing technology and UPF streaming; The other is the dedicated 5g band provided by the state for industry users to build their own 5g private network.

It is understood that in 2020, the Guangdong Provincial Department of industry and information technology issued the notice of “several policies and measures on further promoting information services and consumption in response to the impact of the epidemic”, which mentioned that the main contents of 5g private network are: building more than 10 5g private networks, applying for 1.4GHz and other related frequency bands, exploring 5g private network pilot application in many key fields, 5g private network equipment research and development support, etc. Guangdong is the first province in China to apply for the construction of 5g private network frequency band. Abroad, Germany, Britain and Japan have allocated regional 5g private spectrum resources for industrial users. For example, Germany has allocated part of the frequency band of 3.8ghz to the manufacturing industry, while Japan has reserved the frequency band of 4.6ghz ~ 4.8ghz for 5g private network. Previously, Fujitsu of Japan announced that its own 5g private network was officially put into commercial use, which also received extensive attention from the industry.

Different from foreign plans to provide dedicated frequency bands for industry customers, China holds a tolerant and prudent attitude towards 5g dedicated network and dedicated frequency. Some experts have pointed out that when 5g is not widely used in the primary stage of the industry, can the industry jointly invest in the construction? Wang Zhiqin, vice president of China information and Communication Research Institute, said earlier: “5g spectrum may be difficult to be assigned to a single industry. We actively explore the industry mode, and also actively study whether the application of 5g industry really needs a separate dedicated frequency, including the necessity, feasibility and specific mode.”

Wang Zhiqin found that it is difficult for European enterprises to operate 5g private network after obtaining spectrum, and finally the network is built by operators, which shows that 5g private network and private frequency still need multiple modes of development. The original intention of 5g is to fill the “information gap” of the industry and meet the needs of the industry for high reliability and low latency. Network slicing is a good choice.

So is 5g private network better to use slice technology or allocate private spectrum?

Some people in the industry said that using the slicing technology of operators actually belongs to the virtual private network, because the frequency of the private network is not used. Although in different slices, the physical network is still the same, and the power supply and transmission systems are also the same, which is not a real private network. In the future, it is still unknown whether this kind of network can be fully competent in the public safety, emergency command, railway or subway signal dispatching and other industries with high security requirements. Especially for industries with high delay and reliability requirements, dedicated frequency must be used, because the private network using slicing technology may not be able to guarantee these two indicators.

It has also been pointed out that the promotion of 5g private network based on proprietary frequency will “move the cheese of operators”. However, in the author’s opinion, 5g private network is mainly used to replace the enterprise intranet, and the enterprise Intranet has not been the focus of operators’ business revenue. What’s more, vertical industry customers need to consider which way to build 5g private network according to their own technology and economy. Therefore, whether it is “dedicated frequency” self built, or through the network chip to provide services, 5g private network penetration industry has its own advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, according to the notice on accelerating the development of 5g issued by the Ministry of industry and information technology, the State supports the construction of 5g private network through slicing and spectrum allocation.

Operators will shoulder heavy responsibilities bravely

The positioning of 5g in the industry is not only the communication pipeline, but also the connection, data transmission and application. It will be combined with cameras, AI and industrial equipment to play a greater application value. Wang Zhiqin said that 5g private network products can best reflect the advantages of 5g, and operators should give full play to the advantages of technology and industry to create standardized products of 5g private network to meet the needs of industry customers.

At present, from the perspective of operation mode, the virtual private network is mainly constructed by operators and paid by enterprises. The three major communication operators have launched their own private network solutions, private network platforms and development paths. China Mobile’s 5g private network is divided into three modes: exclusive, exclusive and exclusive; China Telecom’s 5g private network deployment is divided into three modes: Zhiyuan, Bilin and Ruyi; China Unicom 5g private network is divided into virtual private network, hybrid private network and independent private network.

For tob and TOC markets, China Mobile adopts the mode of “independent deployment of core network, wireless sharing as the main, dedicated on demand, shared transmission resources isolated on demand”, that is to say, tob and TOC deploy their own core network independently, and they communicate with each other to meet the needs of chip redirection; Share the transmission network and divide the transmission resources for tob application by SPN soft and hard isolation; The overall shared wireless network only provides dedicated wireless resources through dedicated base station or division of dedicated frequency band in specific demand scenarios.

Facing the needs of market development, China Telecom believes that 5g private network service is not only a communication network, but also a comprehensive solution integrating network, cloud computing, edge computing and application platform customization. China Telecom 5g customized network is a comprehensive solution of “network customization, edge intelligence, cloud collaboration, X on demand” integration and collaboration. Its goal is to create integrated customized and integrated services for industry customers and realize “cloud network integration, on-demand customization”.

The trend of 5g network evolution is network element virtualization, open architecture and intelligent layout, which provides strong technical support for the flexibility and customization of 5g private network service capability. China Unicom’s 5g private network products are customized according to different application scenarios, providing integrated private network with 5g as the core technology, integrating slicing, MEC and other technologies, To provide industry users with customized resources and service quality assurance, business isolation of the boutique security network, including 5g virtual private network, 5g hybrid private network and 5g independent private network.

It can be seen that the 5g private network architectures of the three operators are basically the same, which can flexibly meet the differentiated demands of industry customers. In the future, with the intervention of Internet companies in the integration of 5g related industries, 5g private network will not only be provided by operators, but also Internet companies can provide 5g core network or business platform and other services for enterprises, expand more industry application dimensions, enrich 5g applications, and let 5g private network related equipment industry chain blossom.

Editor in charge: Tzh

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