MFA intros PLMN ID facility to protect private 5G networks from unauthorised access
MFA (MulteFire Alliance) has launched a new ‘network identifier’ scheme to provide enterprises with a unique global public land mobile network (PLMN) ID for their private LTE and 5G networks. The facility allows them to create “unique and distinguishable” private networks, so only authorized devices are able to connect. It bypasses the need for enterprises to apply to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for PLMN IDs.
The old MulteFire Alliance, convened as a kind of rogue working group outside of 3GPP to develop LTE in unlicensed spectrum, rebranded in June as MFA, shifting its agenda away from technical development to focus on industrialising 5G for enterprises. The change came as the MulteFire project has, effectively, found its way back into the 3GPP scope with development of 5G NR-U for use of standalone 5G in unlicensed spectrum.
The group said the new PLMN ID facility, awarded by the ITU earlier this year, will reduce complexity and streamline network development for enterprises by eliminating the need for them to separately apply for their own PLMN ID. Enterprises can select a private network or a neutral host network (NHN) ID package to provide “all the items they need” to deploy a private or neutral host. Add-on IDs are available for large deployments.
At the same time, MFA has introduced a new ‘private network subscriber’ category that will grant enterprises a complimentary private network ID package “for a one-time fee” to use immediately with their private LTE / MulteFire or 5G network deployments, in unlicensed and locally licensed spectrum. The new package, which does not need to be renewed, will enable enterprises to “jumpstart deployments”, it said.
The network identifier programme is administered by the MFA’s certificate authority, and is available today to MFA members and non-members.
Mazen Chmaytelli, president at MFA, said: “Our mission is to make it as easy as possible for enterprises to quickly deploy their own private networks and realize the benefits of greater control over their networks, enhanced on-premise data security, and predictable performance. We are creating this new program to ensure all industry verticals have ready access to a PLMN ID that will support their digitalization journey.”
Asimakis Kokkos, chair of MFA technical specification group and head of technology ecosystems in Nokia’s enterprise solutions division, said: “With access to the global PLMN ID from MFA, network suppliers or operators will have the necessary identifiers to create unique and distinguishable private networks, streamlining the deployment process for their enterprise customers – anywhere in the world they are located.”
MFA is to deliver a set of ‘technology blueprints’, scheduled to come available this quarter, so different businesses in different industrial ‘verticals’ can specify and source industrial 5G devices, and so the cellular side of the Industry 4.0 market moves faster. The blueprints will reveal an industrial 5G matrix, it says, that plots cellular features against use case characteristics, and makes cellular-based solutions simpler to specify.