Enterprises are going through another industrial revolution known under different names, including Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The goal of the implementation of this revolution is to improve efficiency, value and innovation.
However, this change also brings a new challenge to IT departments, as they are tasked with connecting and securing large geographically distributed systems, some of which are mobile. In addition, for enterprise IT departments, mobility requirements for standard, remote, or hybrid work environments present challenges such as lost or stolen devices, identity and access control and the difficulty of onboarding new users.
Deploying private wireless for enterprises
Mobility is a new problem with many enterprises asking themselves — couldn’t Wi-Fi solve the problem for all mobile devices, and will enterprises’ existing security policies easily solve the security challenges mobility brings?
Wi-Fi solves some connectivity and security problems, but it has not been designed for highly mobile systems. As we have all now experienced, trying to walk during a call connected to Wi-Fi is a lottery, the connection might break, or it might not.
Private mobile networks now solve the mobility problem with very high reliability and have integrated security into the solution, using SIM for authentication, authorization and encryption. Private mobile networks make it a great candidate to solve the mobility problem of Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Mobile networks diversify the enterprise network with new technology, but it is expensive and using existing mobile providers, enterprise security policies are not easily extended into it. For enterprises, the answer to this challenge is private mobile networks, not as a replacement for other wireless access technologies, but to diversify the technologies and ensure that IT departments are using the right tools to solve the problem.
By deploying a private mobile network, the IT department fully controls how endpoints, such as a mobile phone, robot, sensor, etc., can access the enterprise network. IT managers can extend or create new security policies for the new private mobile network segment(s) created. They can issue eSIMs and use the security capabilities of the eSIMs to improve their private mobile network security and control over access to the IT systems and services.
What industries stand to benefit the most?
Many industries are facing a mobility problem, including healthcare, manufacturing, warehousing, education, essentially, any location that is a large campus where people and devices move across it, needing a persistent, private and/or secure session.
For example, in hospital systems, all essential staff carry pagers. Pagers work in highly spectral congested environments, guarantee return receipts to the sender, and comply with the regulatory requirements. After being paged, the essential staff member goes to the nearest phone and makes a phone call. Now, you would ask why the hospital systems couldn’t use mobile or Wi-Fi phones? There is a guarantee that the staff will encounter service problems, as well as regulatory requirements that need to be met. For one thing, mobile devices from public carriers face radio availability issues within the hospital buildings and regulatory compliance issues. Wi-Fi faces mobility and spectral interference problems, creating poor service for those trying to utilize it.
Private mobile networks solve the above problems as they deliver a service guarantee level needed by the hospital systems, provide coverage within hospital buildings, solve real-time mobility, and meet all the regulatory requirements.
Edge versus cloud
In the second half of 2021, enterprises started to test private network deployments as a replacement for digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) systems for indoor mobile networks. This trend continues into 2022. Enterprise IT departments are testing limited deployments to learn and gain experience with new technologies and vendors. As enterprises and their system integrator (SI) partners become increasingly familiar, we will see more interesting and complex enterprise applications using private mobile networks and more use cases for edge and cloud computing. Enterprises will learn more about edge limitations such as power, space, and cooling that the cloud doesn’t have, and edge advantages such as low latency, decentralization and higher resilience that the cloud is not able to offer.
These new use cases and learnings will drive the innovation that will bring out the best and reduce the downside of each one, enabling faster adoption of Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation and IIoT. As there are hybrid clouds, both private and public, those will be diversified with edge platforms and private mobile networks to create hybrid edge clouds.