Private 5G Market Continues to Attract New Entrants, Particularly Telcos?

J. Marcus

Summary Bullets:

? The mercurial market sentiment around private 5G may be rebounding again in a more positive direction, as a number of new service launches and partnerships are announced in July and August 2023.

? Telcos are taking the lead in new service offerings (generally based on solutions from familiar infrastructure partners), while integrators, platform vendors, and market specialists forge new market alliances.

For suppliers of network gear and services as well as the applications they support, the private wireless/cellular/mobile networks market has been seen variously since 2020 as a bright spot, a conundrum, or a concern. Some of the same market players have been extremely bullish and cautious within a short space of time. Whenever there appears to be a chorus of disappointment, it isn’t long before key players or new entrants (or analysts) are quoted saying the market appears to finally be picking up.

Private 5G (and LTE) is not going away, but it isn’t the kind of market where a hockey stick will be needed to illustrate forecasts. Different business demographics and regulatory conditions in every country means that private wireless will be very much in demand in certain regional and vertical market segments and highly irrelevant in others. In the meantime, GlobalData continues to follow the parade of deployment announcements and the launch of new product/service offerings entering the market, most of which recently seem to be coming from telco service providers. At the same time, vendors, service providers, and integrators continue to strike partnerships mid-2023 as it appears to be the consensus that the opportunity is genuine.

New Service Announcements Mid-2023

  • Swisscom launched a private 5G in a box (or in a vehicle) solution for events, intended as an betagternative to providing temporary coverage (indoor and outdoor) with WiFi or public cellular alone. It’s not the first such launch in Europe by any means, indicating there is real market traction for this sort of offering.
  • Virgin Media O2 has done something similar in the UK, only Virgin Media O2 is positioning its “standalone private 5G in a box” (based on Nokia products) as a solution for companies and organizations looking to run trials in their own location without needing to install an entire network.
  • UScellular announced a private 4G/5G offering in partnership with Ericsson, targeting industrial, customized requirements for enterprises in manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and utilities. It is somewhat interesting seeing UScellular positioning explicitly for industrial IoT connectivity, a market where its visibility is quite a bit lower than that of rivals’ such as AT&T and Verizon.
  • Globe Telecom claims its HPE/Athonet-based standalone private 5G solution is a first for the Philippines, based on a starter kit comprising SIM cards, a radio, and a mobile core network in a briefcase. Enterprises can choose to host the solution in the cloud, acquire a complete solution including HPE edge servers and Athonet software, or just license the software to integrate into existing infrastructure. Globe Telecom is also focused on industrial IoT use cases for positioning its offering.
  • VMware has said it will begin offering its private 4G/5G solution running on VMware Edge Compute Stack starting Q3 2023, aiming to entice managed service providers, citing Boingo Wireless, Betacom, and Federated Wireless as beta program partners. It is one of the only recent service launch announcements not made (at least in part) by a spectrum-owning telco.
  • Federated Wireless, the CBRS spectrum manager and prominent provider of private 4G/5G solutions in the US for several years, has been doing more mid-2023 than adding a new core platform partner in VMware. It has also struck a go-to-market partnership with integrator/reseller World Wide Technology focused on packaging the Federated Wireless Neutral Host 2.0 solution for enterprises looking for a turnkey solution for industrial IoT use cases. Another newly announced partner, Carahsoft, will bring Federated Wireless’ private 5G solutions to the US public sector through its own specialist channel partners.
  • Celona, another early player in private 4G/5G solutions, is also expanding its reach, forging new partnerships in the US (with enterprise connectivity integrator-reseller Velaspan) and in Asia (with telcos and integrators in South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam).

Deals and service launches like these demonstrate continued high expectations for private networks, especially those using 5G for IoT connectivity. While telcos accounted for most of the new service launches mid-2023, indicating a stronger appetite for competing in the space, some of those new offerings (e.g., “in a box” solutions) can be seen more as a way of ‘testing the waters’ rather than aggressive market entries. At the same time, there is plenty of jockeying for position among integrators and specialists, including some of the main early players targeting opportunities in the US and globally. Federated Wireless and Celona were testing the waters three years ago, after all.

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