MulteFire Alliance on 2021: More variety and volume for private LTE and 5G
Industry 4.0 is here, and private wireless is enabling industry verticals to capitalize on the promise of this ‘fourth industrial revolution’. 2021 will see a major transformation in automation of factories, ports, and other industrial IoT venues. Enterprises are ready to automate their processes, and private LTE is enabling them to start down this path. This is because LTE delivers high-quality, reliable, low-latency wireless connectivity, plus support for mobility, and because private LTE installations bring enterprises greater control over their connected operations.
Particularly in high-risk, and mission- or business-critical environments, enterprises are starting to see the value of private LTE as an enabling technology to automate machines and processes, and to raise business efficiency and worker safety. Private LTE technologies, including MulteFire, are being used in mines and factories, and other venues, to connect heads-up cameras, autonomous vehicles, advanced machinery, smart connected tools, wearable sensors, and protective equipment.
And while 5G is being rapidly deployed for consumers, its full potential will only be realized by these other industries, where LTE is finding its feet – such as in manufacturing, shipping and logistics, mining, oil and gas. Organizations like 5G-ACIA are working to ensure 5G addresses their requirements, too. Meanwhile, the rollout of private 5G in 2021 presents an opportunity for enterprises to further their digital transformation. Those choosing to operate their own networks will be able to customize them, to ensure data security and integrity, and edge deployments.
But to deploy a private network, enterprises need access to spectrum. Licensed spectrum has traditionally only been available to mobile operators. That is changing, however; there is a shift to support enterprises with dedicated local spectrum. We will see more traction for locally licensed LTE and 5G in 2021, led by Germany, which has set aside 100 MHz of the C-Band for enterprises, and the UK, with a similar initiative. Other countries will do the same, allowing enterprises to deploy private networks to guarantee quality-of-service for business-critical applications.
Alongside, shared and unlicensed spectrum afford different deployment options for private wireless. With MulteFire, enterprises anywhere can use the 5 GHz unlicensed band to deploy LTE without applying for a national license. A quick word on MulteFire, for anyone in the dark; the 1.0 version, operating at 5 GHz, supports co-existence with other technologies in the same band, such as Wi-Fi. As 5 GHz is available globally, enterprises can deploy the same private network at different sites around the world.
In sum, we expect to see more enterprises and more industry verticals adopt private LTE and 5G networks in 2021, ushering in the next industrial revolution. Beyond 2021, businesses will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the industrial IoT, enabling new ways of production, transportation, and more. A number of enterprises have already started to leverage new LTE or 5G networks, and the number will grow exponentially over the next few years, with millions of private networks deployed across the world.