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Jargon busting: what is a mobile private network and why do we need it?

24 May 2022

Chris Allen

Product Owner: Mobile Private Networks

As you might have guessed by now, we are more than a little excited about 5G. Many have been calling it the business generation of network, as it starts to change the way we live and work together.

However, it’s also true that with so much anticipation it can be difficult to separate hype from fact. That’s why we recently took a fresh look at 5G: asking what it is and what it can really do.

The good news is that this is only the beginning, because the power of 5G opens up a whole host of other tools within the network.

One of those new tools is the mobile private network (MPN).  

Why go private?

An MPN is a mini-5G network built to cover a specific location, able to deliver better service with more control and security.

But first, to be clear; the technical experts will point out that you can already have a private network on 4G today.

So why does 5G make the difference?

Well, looking past the speed (5G is up to 10x faster than 4G), today’s network will soon be unable to handle the ever-growing number of devices connecting through the Internet of Things.

As demand increases, this strain causes a delay in data travelling from point A to point B: not a serious problem when sending an e-mail, but unacceptable if you are remote-controlling heavy machinery or running medical equipment autonomously.

As well increased bandwidth, with the potential to connect up to 500,000 devices to one tower, 5G also offers drastically reduced latency – the milliseconds of delay before a data transfer begins.

This transfer is now almost real-time, especially when combined with the power of cloud edge computing, but more on that later.

sport stadium

Seeing the benefits in action

Location makes a big difference to the speed and reliability we get from a network. Many of us have experienced delays in packed sports stadiums or at train stations during rush hour.

This can be annoying when we want to order a taxi or let someone know where we are, but on an industrial site, any delay can mean reduced productivity. Or worse, a serious health and safety problem.

That’s why businesses have mainly relied on hard-wired connections until now. This usually works well, but it does come with some drawbacks.

Wired machines are fixed in one place and moving them is not an easy process. Wi-Fi offers some flexibility, but the connection is usually not strong enough to support complex technologies across multiple buildings on-site.

It’s also worth noting that physical wires need to come from somewhere. In more remote locations, digging up the ground to install them is a serious logistical challenge, with big up-front costs.

Using 5G, we can offer the speed and reliability of a wired connection together with the flexibility of mobile.

With that reliability, businesses can design an MPN to monitor critical data such as gas, sound or heat, able to trigger alarms and cease machinery when needed.

welder 1

A network that fits to your business

When it comes to networks, more control means more options. With this new flexibility, businesses are beginning to reimagine the way they design, operate and maximise their premises.

It’s one thing to bring this technology from concept to creation, but the real satisfaction comes from co-creating future ready solutions that change the way our customers work and live.

Our Factory of the Future, designed with vehicle manufacturer Ford, is the perfect example of this.

And we can't wait to continue working with our customers to show what this fifth generation of network can do.

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