What Is Enterprise 5G?
Enterprise 5G is a dedicated wireless LAN solution built to meet an organization's specific needs. This allows an organization to take advantage of the benefits of 5G, including the following:
- Increase transmission speed (up to 10 times 4G)
- Increase network capacity (Up to 10 times more capacity than 4G)
- Ultra-low latency (less than 20ms round trip)
- Improved support for low-power devices and sensors
How Is Enterprise 5G Different from 5G?
In an enterprise 5G model, the enterprise itself has complete control over the network. The organization owns its infrastructure, radio devices, mobile core, and management software. This is in stark contrast to commercial 5G carrier services and managed service providers.
In the past, organizations could only create private mobile networks by using commercial carriers, such as AT&T or Verizon. Enterprises had very little control over usage fees, network availability, and data security through this model. Complexity and spectrum licensing restrictions prevented private entities from building their own 4G and 5G networks.
Today, enterprises can create their own private 5G networks similar to how businesses own and control Wi-Fi networks. This was largely made possible through a new leasable portion of the radio spectrum called the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).
Businesses can purchase portions of the CBRS spectrum for their own private use. This new spectrum availability combined with plug-and-play private 5G technology allows enterprises to scale with more predictability and have more control over their cellular resources than ever before.
Benefits of Enterprise 5G
Enterprise 5G architecture combines 5G performance with granular application-specific controls tailored for enterprise environments. These characteristics allow businesses to quickly scale, improve uptime, and provide ultra-reliable service to their staff and customers.
5G wireless networks offer improved speed, reliability, and increased capacity compared to their 4G predecessor. The leap in 5G performance is so significant that entirely new services and products will rely on it. Technologies such as autonomous vehicles, remote surgeries, and robotics require the ultra-low latency performance that 5G offers.
Enterprise 5G will offer the following:
- Ten Gbps data transfer rate, nearly four times faster than 4G
- Up to 100 times more capacity than 4G
- One-millisecond latency
- Reduced energy consumption
- Support for low-power devices
As more enterprises adopt Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, the demand for increased network capacity will rise. Enterprise 5G can support thousands of low-power sensors that provide real-time insights for improved efficiency and preventive maintenance.
5G performance upgrades go beyond just speed and capacity with fundamental changes to data transmission. Improvements to orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) allow 5G networks to operate more efficiently, provide higher data rates, and handle multiple low-latency transmissions with ease.
Enterprise 5G on the CBRS spectrum operates on its own frequency, allowing for interference-free communication. Businesses can deploy their private 5G networks in their environment without having to worry about interfering with existing Wi-Fi networks. This allows both Wi-Fi and enterprise 5G to work in tandem, where 5G service is reserved for the most critical applications and services.
5G also operates on multiple bands, allowing its signal to travel both long and short distances reliably. This is ideal for organizations that want to connect their neighboring offices with the main campus, while also providing service in smaller spaces like a hallway. For instance, businesses can use 5G across the low band to receive updates from a rural job site, while using the high band for ultra-fast speeds in the office.
Through a technique called MicroSlicing, organizations can assign cellular resources to certain applications, users, or logical groups. This essentially creates a rule setting the minimum performance requirements for a certain service. For example, healthcare facilities can ensure their ICU medical sensors always receive network priority through MicroSlicing. Slices can be configured right down to the exact latency and throughput requirements.
Solutions like Celona go a step further by integrating these requirements across the cellular, Wi-Fi, and wired networks. By utilizing a central management console, organizations don’t have to create duplicate service-level agreements (SLAs) and rule sets for each channel, making it easier to enforce company-wide performance benchmarks.
In the cellular world, device identification and authentication are handled through the SIM card rather than a network password. This single distinction makes enterprise 5G a more secure option by default and less of a target for bad actors. Many people are familiar with the SIM cards we insert into our new phones upon activation.
This same process is used in an enterprise 5G environment to manage cell phones, tablets, laptops, and sensors. Provisioning can even be performed remotely via eSIM, which uses a simple QR code to join devices to the network. Without a physical or digital SIM, the device cannot see or join the network.
5G encrypts uses 256-bit encryption by default, a big step up from the 128-bit standard used on 4G networks. The inherent security built into 5G makes it easier for companies to comply with standards such as HIPAA or PCI-DSS and segment their traffic reliability.
While 5G chipsets are slightly more expensive when compared to Wi-FI cards, the increased range and capacity of 5G requires less infrastructure to cover the same amount of space. This means less hardware, maintenance, and management for the same amount of coverage.
Advancements in plug-and-play cellular technology have lowered the barrier to entry, allowing the enterprise to regain its control and save money over time by managing it internally. This control also eliminates carrier fees, sudden rate increases, and overage charges typically found in commercial cellular networks.
How Does Enterprise 5G Work?
Organizations first start by purchasing space on the CBRS spectrum. This can be done through either a CBRS auction or a secondhand marketplace. Using a Priority Access License (PAL) ensures a specific range of the cellular spectrum is available on a county-by-county basis. Alternatively, the unlicensed General Authorized Access (GAA) tier is available, but it must accept interference from those with a PAL.
Next, businesses choose the hardware to best suit their needs. While this will vary depending on the size and requirements for the network, many organizations use a mix of indoor and outdoor access points for coverage. Cellular infrastructure looks similar to the hardware found in Wi-Fi networks, allowing them to be installed easily. Solutions like Celona use the existing IT infrastructure to quickly set up access points without having to run cables or interrupt business operations.
At the heart of the enterprise 5G network is the Evolved Packet Core (EPC). The EPC handles a range of services from traffic management to data handling. Enterprises can choose to host their own EPC on premises or have it managed elsewhere by a third party.
The EPC helps bridge the gap between cellular and non-cellular technology, allowing enterprises to manage SLAs across multiple channels from a single system. It also allows cellular assets to communicate with other systems, such as an Active Directory environment, file share, cloud networks, or other non-3GPP technology.
Devices on the enterprise 5G network use either eSIM or SIM cards to securely authenticate and identify themselves. Administrators can manage devices and their access through centralized device management software. In a similar fashion, cellular resources can be assigned to specific applications and services through MicroSlicing.
MicroSlicing integrates into existing IT policies, meaning enterprises don’t have to start from scratch when setting SLAs across their cellular network. Automation and machine learning technology can automatically assign policies to new devices based on their attributes. For example, if an organization has set SLAs for security cameras, machine learning can understand what a new security camera looks like and assign it to the appropriate slice.
Challenges of Enterprise 5G
Setting up an enterprise 5G network from scratch can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know where to start. Many organizations claim to provide “private 5G” or “enterprise 5G” but only offer pieces of the total solution.
For example, some companies may provide radios for the network, but not offer any back-end management software. This can dramatically increase the time it takes to get started and create a complex multi-vendor environment.
Another big challenge in the enterprise 5G space is finding a truly independent solution. Many private 5G networks are offered as a managed service, which often sacrifices control and visibility for perceived convenience. In recent years however, new technology has made building and managing cellular networks easier, especially for enterprise-sized organizations.
The Celona Solution
Celona offers all the ingredients required to setup your own mobile network as a seamless turnkey 5G LAN solution. From hardware and network planning, to licensing and policy management, Celona provides everything enterprises need to build and maintain a successful independent 5G network.
Celona uses edgeless enterprise architecture and cloud-based artificial intelligence to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.
If you’re building your network for the future, Celona can help. Check out our private LTE network planner to see what your network would look like on the CBRS, or test-drive the Celona Solution Architecture for yourself through our free trial.