Private LTE, and future 5G, networks are emerging as an important way for enterprises and vertical markets to achieve mobile connectivity that is optimized for their needs, in a way that the public network cannot be (at least until network slicing becomes fully commercialized).
Nokia is pursuing this opportunity aggressively, whether or not an MNO is involved (private networks in shared or industrial spectrum are a means for non-MNOs to deploy cellular systems and services). Ericsson has become far more wary of bypassing or alienating its operator customers, but is pursuing partnerships with MNOs to improve their position in the private cellular market, and so drive new revenues for itself.
It is working with Finnish operator Elisa on such a partnership, treading on Nokia’s toes in the latter’s home market and an established Nokia customer. Ericsson and Elisa have co-developed a private network which the MNO can sell on to its enterprise customers.
The 4G proof of concept network aims to help operators deliver mission-critical broadband networks for enterprises and public safety agencies. Ericsson says it will “enable Elisa’s enterprise customers to gain control of users, devices and traffic on the local private networks, providing greater security and an increased capacity for high demand”.
The pilot tests were conducted at Elisa’s locations in the first of half of this year, based on the Ericsson Private Network solution, which is pre-integrated to deliver a network in a box, using the vendor’s Enterprise Core, Router 6000 and Radio Dot indoor RAN, which has an evolution path to 5G.
Eetu Prieur, director of mobile solutions at Elisa, said: ”Private networks are expected to spread throughout different industries. Forerunner companies have already identified the benefits of private networks: guaranteed capacity, reliability and security.”
Manuel Ruiz, head of mission critical and private networks at Ericsson, added: “The Ericsson Private Networks solution comes at a time when capacity, security, and other critical communication needs are prompting industries to seek out their own private networks. With its own dedicated networks for enterprises, Elisa will be able to better adapt service to specific industrial customer needs.”
In June, Ericsson announced a private network contract with microcar company e.Go Mobile in Sweden.