5G for industrial applications and private networks – that works!

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A survey of industrial organisations shows a strong appetite for 5G and the importance of guaranteed Quality of Service. 79% of industrial companies would expect to pay a premium for guaranteed QoS.

Capgemini has just published a research report on 5G in industrial operations. They surveyed around 800 manufacturing and ‘asset-intensive’ companies about their views on 5G. There is a strong demand for 5G in industrial companies. So much so that several companies say they’re planning to roll out their own private 5G networks rather than have to wait on the operators’ public networks.

33% of the industrial companies surveyed said that they have already applied for a 5G licence, or are the process of doing so. A spokesperson from Siemens in Germany summed up their view, “We cannot wait for the network operators to be ready – we are in the midst of Industry 4.0.”

Most companies are currently undergoing digital transformations, and when asked what 5G features are critical for digital transformation the top answer was guaranteed quality of service. 67% of industrial companies said QoS was critical to a successful transformation. Managing and ensuring QoS and latency in 5G will be the job of the policy control function (PCF).

One interesting aspect of the research was price perception. Looking at the results, operators could be in danger of selling themselves short. The survey asked what services industrial companies would pay a premium for and what the operators felt they could charge a premium for. The biggest difference of opinion was for enhanced mobile broadband. 54% of the operators felt that the industrial companies would pay a premium for EMBB, as opposed to 72% of the industrial companies themselves who said they’d be willing to pay a premium. The service that most industrial companies said that they’d pay a premium price for (79%) is guaranteed quality of service. The operators also scored this one the highest (74%).

So not only is guaranteed quality of service the 5G attribute that industrial companies say is critical to their digital transformation, it’s the one that most industrial companies would expect to pay a premium for, as well as being the one that most operators would expect to be able to charge a premium for. Where this is going to get really interesting is being able to monetise QoS at a differentiated network slice level and tie this in with SLAs and guaranteeing service.

Automated networks and use cases

The survey listed the main 5G use cases that are attractive to industrial companies. These are listed below, but it’s clear that these are all concerned with automating processes and operations. The industrial use cases that are most attractive are:

  • Real-time analytics leveraging edge computing
  • Video surveillance of remote production lines
  • Remote control of distributed production line
  • AI enabled and remote-controlled motion e.g., collaborative robots, self-driven cars, drones
  • Real-time service and breakdown alerts
  • Remote operations/maintenance/training solutions through AR/VR
  • Predictive/preventive maintenance

5G enterprise and IoT presents a great opportunity for mobile operators. It also offers a good opportunity for network equipment vendors to sell direct to the enterprises who are looking at rolling out their own private 5G networks.

Niall Byrne, Head of Automated Networks, Openet Niall is head of automated networks at Openet. Previous to this he’s ran engineering, as well as support & managed services in Openet. Prior to Openet Niall worked in Ericsson in the development of the Ericsson fraud, revenue management platforms and Prepaid Light Charging products.

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