A new report by Juniper Research has found that the enhanced capabilities of 5G are driving enthusiasm and awareness of private cellular networks; bringing annual spend on network hardware and services to almost $12 billion globally by 2023, growing 116% from the $5.5 billion expected for 2021.
5G deployments have a key role to play here: over 60% of base stations used in these deployments in 2023 will be 5G, thanks to its ultra-low latency, and signal propagation properties that allow deployment in environments where conventional networks struggle.
The new report, Private Cellular Networks: Spectrum Assessment, Business Models & Forecasts 2021-2026, notes that these networks will be almost entirely business driven. The most prominent sectors will be manufacturing, mining, and the energy industry; accounting for 59% of spend in 2023.
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Mobile Network Operators Risk Losing Out on Growing Market
The report notes that, despite their dominant position in public cellular networks, traditional operators risk missing out on much of the private network market. Instead, Juniper Research believes that telecommunications network vendors, like Ericsson and Nokia, are in the best position to capitalise on private networks; offering their hardware and value-added services directly to businesses looking to utilise private networks.
“With private networks frequently entirely separate from public networks, the role of traditional mobile network operators can be minimal in many cases”, remarked research author James Moar.
“This means that hardware providers and systems integrators will play more dominant roles, given the right regulatory framework.”
The Importance of Spectrum & Regulation
The report notes private network deployments are uneven globally, with the largest markets being those with the most open or flexible spectrum allocation. Germany and the United States are among the most advanced; offering localised leasing and general spectrum availability. As a result, these two countries will account for 30% of global private network spend in 2023, although this will decline as other countries release spectrum for private network usage.