5G build-out, private network eSIMs, vertical market spread (Druid Software on 2022)
Private FWA networks
The continued investment from the US government – with the Biden infrastructure bill being the most recent example – will continue to provide vital funding to address the digital divide in the US. This will see that fixed-wireless access (FWA) deployments are well funded and will continue at pace in 2022. Wireless internet service providers will continue to scale their networks next year across several counties, states and in some cases across the country with this funding to close the gap in rural areas.
The billion dollar funding we have seen for 5G R&D in the US – specifically for Department of Defense innovation – will see many more 5G testbeds set up around the country on military campuses as use cases like inventory management and AR/VR are tested. Some of Druid’s partners have won FRANC investment in the UK which will support further 5G innovation there; several more German testbeds are planned for the first half of 2022.
We also see 5G testbeds being set up now with our partners in France, Japan, Australia, South Korea and the Middle East and India. The developing 5G ecosystem will also benefit the FWA sector, and could be one of the first real commercial, scalable use cases for 5G in 2022 – to provide gigabytes of throughput versus hundreds of megabytes with LTE today for enhanced residential broadband.
5G location management
The Location Management Function (LMF) in 5G continues to be a hot topic and feature request from enterprises. (Druid delivered this feature for a partner earlier this year working with US DoD 5G use cases.) But 5G RAN and device vendors also need to provide further support for LMF so location and asset tracking will continue to be an important feature of focus in 2022.
Private network eSIMs
Our demonstrations with G+D at MWC this year sparked a lot of interest in how eSIM will enable easier access for devices on private networks in various use cases. There will be further innovation in this area in 2022 no doubt, moving from demonstrations to commercial PoCs. Our partners address heavy industry in logistics and transport, supporting container tracking and telemetry use cases tell us that eSIM will eventually be a key part of their overall private network solution.
Vertical market spread
We have seen examples of how private networks have been key to business or mission use cases in many verticals to date – like education with Carnegie Mellon University, healthcare at Memorial Healthcare, industrial IoT at the Port of Oakland and Port of Rotterdam, smart cities use-cases in Tucson, plus various stadiums, sports venues and race tracks (the MotoGP circuit in Austin, Texas), and many digital divide examples like in Roaring Fork, in the Navajo nation, and a number of school across multiple US states.
2022 will be a big year for the utility and manufacturing sectors, which are traditionally more conservative – unlike the early adopters in transport and logistics. The utilities and manufacturing industries are now primed and under pressure from management to explore the efficiencies that private networks can do for competitive advantage with their business critical communications with use cases. They need to understand how industrial automation and predictive maintenance use cases can be leveraged in these sectors to increase productivity and reduce outages.
Neutral host model
Neutral host has continued to be a hot area of development with a big push already for 5G NHN for 2022. Two great examples of the benefits of neutral host have been in the hospitality sector – with our MORN gateway deployments with Geoverse at the 7 Cedars Casino and Hotel and more recently at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando. In both cases, we have helped hotel operators to gain independence from typical extended rollout of carrier coverage, reducing solution complexity, and related costs of the legacy-carrier-sourced DAS-based neutral hosts typically deployed in the past.
At the same time, enabling mobility and ensuring connectivity for marketing and software applications, and for the whole guest experience, clearly improves customer retention. We already see a big push for neutral host 5G networks for early 2022. It will be also interesting to see when the 5G-based smart factory projects we’ve delivered already in the UK and Germany – as part of the 5G Encode project with Zeetta Networks and the TU Kaiserslautern work with Mugler – will begin to appear in factories in the US.