Druid Software on 2021: Boom-time for private cellular – with pickup in Spain, Italy
The Covid 19 pandemic has helped accelerate private cellular network adoption, and will continue to do so in 2021. But it has also highlighted a new digital divide (which is not going away anytime soon) between vertical sectors that have and have-not prioritized access to high-speed broadband during lockdown.
In 2021, we will continue to see explosive growth in fixed-wireless access solutions from wireless internet service providers, deployed to service homes and school districts as a quick-fix for distance-learning tools and enterprise business applications for those without high-speed broadband.
Meanwhile, the driver for private network adoption in 2021 will continue to be to bridge the divide between those with and without high-speed broadband in urban and rural areas. It will also be deployed to spur innovation in healthcare and to support business-critical use cases in the industrial sector, like for smart maintenance, factory automation, and asset tracking.
In the US, deployments of private and shared networks in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band will be busy. With a vibrant ecosystem of OnGo equipment and applications, the major comms service providers will start to move from initial customer deployments (ICDs) to finalisation, and roll-out of their go-to-market strategies.
The recent PAL auction showed how many business-critical enterprises want private cellular to drive their digital-change strategies to reduce costs and enhance productivity, and just how serious they are about it.
In general, momentum will build further in 2021 around the private cellular market for industry, with more vendors delivering on their 5G SA roadmaps. A healthy and fast-moving private-cellular market is developing in the UK, with support from the government and regulator. Brexit has only seemed to accelerate this process rather than impede it, as the UK does not want to be left behind Europe.
The same in Germany, as well, with forward-looking regulation and an expanding 5G SA ecosystem, and more and more business- and mission-critical use cases emerging. In France, good spectrum has been available for private networks for some years, but the local regulator will need to rethink its current cost and licensing model in 2021 if there is to be real adoption and innovation, like in the US, UK, and German markets.
But there will be good growth for private cellular in 2021 in Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Nordics. As regulators watch what is happening elsewhere, particularly with CBRS in the US, we may see countries like Italy also join the fray, and issue suitable spectrum for industrial 5G-based innovation.
Finally, we think maritime communications solutions for container tracking and port automation will grow significantly in 2021 we predict. These use cases have had strong growth over the last few years, but the pandemic has brought urgency to the digital-change agenda in this sector. In the end, the drive for fewer people to be directly involved in transport processes, because of lockdowns and social distancing, is only adding to this.