Private 5G networks are emerging as the ‘go to’ solution for companies looking for tailor-made private networks. And the driver behind the 5G ‘revolution’ is that they can be tailor-made.
Several partnerships are offering private 5G networks ‘in a box’ or, perhaps, as a service, but there is a definite lack of telco leadership here.
Clearly, the private 5G ecosystem is a great opportunity for many sectors, and telcos must act quickly to make sure they grab the opportunity and not throw it away as they have done in the past.
Ask yourself this: if you were the CIO of a car manufacturer, would you go to a telco to design a private network that supports the immensely complex set of requirements – or someone who understood car manufacturing.
As Amy Cameron, Principal Analyst at STL Partners (via Telecom TV) says, “the telcos now have an opportunity with private networks, but it’s a threat if they don’t adapt to the market and instead maintain the same mindset of: “I am the lead commercial stakeholder and I’m going to do it on my terms… if they stick in that mindset it is completely a threat.”
The situation will only get worse (or better, depending on your point of view) with 6G, where the ecosystems that are forming seem to encompass the whole of society, not just the purely digital part.
In 6G, we will see innovation upon innovation, that 5G is only kickstarting. It will support the massive numbers of devices that the IoT will light up. It will be clean, efficient and sensory, at least according to some of the early research carried out.
Of course, the opportunity is not just about a private 5G network, because as we have said before, it is about the partnerships – the ever-expanding partnerships that will drive our digital future.
What role will telcos end up playing?
Pole position does not seem like a good bet based on their position in 4G and now 5G. Too often, telco CEOs have publicly bemoaned the fact that they have built the network, and others are creaming the profits. Only regulation, it seems, will change that.
As partnerships expand and digital service providers grow in number and agility, it looks as if it will be the agile guys who, once again, will win the prize.
Private 5G networks are becoming the testing ground to see if companies can change their outlook and culture enough and in time. And whether it is 5G, 6G or WiFi 6, the same holds true. This could well be the moment when telcos become utilities, as many have predicted they would.
That said, there is plenty of money to be made as a utility if you do it right and at the right scale.
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