The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reckons at least 955 organisations have now deployed LTE or 5G private mobile networks in 72 countries.
A new report from the GSA says 66 new organisations deployed private networks during Q3, up from a total of 889 clocked in Q2. The USA, Germany, China, UK and Japan boast the most deployments, but there are now private networks set up in 72 countries.
The report says there is a strong correlation between the number of private mobile network ‘references’ (which would appear to mean deployments) and countries with dedicated spectrum – which stands to reason.
Organisations still favour LTE (4G) apparently, with 5G representing 40.9% of private mobile network deployments. In terms of who is buying the stuff, the three fastest-growing industry during Q3 were mining (15 new customers) defence and peacekeeping (13), and manufacturing (9). Overall, manufacturing, education and mining remain the three largest sectors for private networks.
“We’re witnessing a steady growth in private mobile network deployments on various levels; in terms of technology, with LTE and 5G both gaining traction, as well as in terms of market reach, with countries all over the world actively deploying the technologies,” said Joe Barrett, President of GSA. “As we see more and more different applications for private mobile networks in various sectors, such as mining, defence and manufacturing, GSA will keep tracking the state of the market and leading the discussion with our Private Mobile Networks SIG.”
The organisation also announced that Airspan Networks has become a member, joining other kit vendors and telco firms such as Ericsson, Huawei, Keysight Technologies, Mavenir, and Nokia.
“We’re delighted to welcome Airspan as the newest member and look forward to welcoming more names from across the ecosystem as the market develops,” added Barrett.
Elsewhere, the GSA has buddied up with the 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA) and has pledged to jointly publish market research, reports and host events focussed on Industrial 5G networks and devices.
Andreas Mueller, General Chair of 5G-ACIA said: “Connectivity is a key component of Industry 4.0 which aims to significantly improve the flexibility, versatility, usability and efficiency of future smart factories and industrial plants. Industrial 5G is being applied to a constantly evolving range of use cases, taking advantage of its unprecedented reliability and very low latencies, as well as massive IoT connectivity. By partnering with GSA, the two organisations are combining the unrivalled sector expertise and insights of our communities to help drive and shape the global evolution of industrial 5G.”
It’s tough to work out if the adoption of private 5G networks thus far has been a roaring success, a damp squib, or something in between. On the surface 955 customers doesn’t sound like a lot when we’re used to measuring consumer markets, but then setting up your own bespoke 5G network isn’t the same thing as flogging a 5G mobile contract – it’s a lot more complicated and a lot more expensive.
Private networks in factories, to take the usual example, can facilitate all sorts of fancy IoT gubbins, minutely track equipment performance, and set up things like predictive maintenance on conveyor belts. These are perhaps not the sexiest things with which to demonstrate the abilities of cutting-edge comms tech, but they are practical, and while the industry continues to struggle for a genuinely innovative use case for 5G on the consumer side, it remains the best thing to point at when someone asks ‘what does 5G do, then?’
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