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What is private 5G?

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A private 5G network is a mobile network that functions similarly to a public 5G network, but allows the owner to provide restricted access and use licensed or unlicensed wireless spectrum. Basically, private 5G takes advantage of the benefits of traditional 5G in the context of an enclosed facility such as a manufacturing plant, port, airport, campus, or business park.

This can be beneficial when deploying private wireless networks at these facilities where specific capabilities - beyond those offered by Wi-Fi and other network technologies- are needed. These can include coverage, low latency access, performance, privacy, and security.

Some aspects of private 5G are identical to the public 5G networks provided by commercial telecommunication service providers. 5G networks are the next evolution of wireless mobile technology, providing lower-latency and higher-throughput connectivity. 

Reduced latency and increased reliability makes private 5G especially interesting for industrial applications. One example could be a large manufacturing site, where reliable connectivity is needed on the shop floor, but also outside. 

Think of autonomous guided vehicles moving parts from one shop floor to another. With private 5G, machines such as these can connect to the network reliably, and can be instrumented with more sensors, more efficiently, without the need for rewiring. Then as a production run changes, the machines can be moved without having to move wires.

Learn more about the basics of 5G  

The key differences between public and private 5G have to do with restricted access and isolation. Typically, the public 5G networks available through service providers offer equal access rights to all users, sometimes leading to degraded service performance. A higher service availability is fundamental to support always-on operations. 

A private 5G network offers greater control. Unlike public 5G, a private 5G network can be reconfigured to permit different levels of access when certain network activities are deemed more business-critical than others.

Private 5G networks also provide the ability to completely or partially isolate end user devices from service providers’ public networks. This security feature reduces threats by limiting exposure to public interfaces when necessary, such as when personal data, intellectual property, or other sensitive information is involved.

Compatible edge devices can switch between private and public 5G networks when needed. For instance, when an organization wants their heavy construction equipment to switch to a public 5G network to maintain connection, it can roam beyond the coverage area of their private 5G network.

A network can be considered a “standalone private” 5G network if the organization owns or rents spectrum and infrastructure such as network base stations and the core network. This option provides the greatest control, making it possible to completely isolate network users from public networks provided by service providers.

It’s also possible to define a network as either a “hybrid private” 5G network or “sliced private” 5G network. In these cases, 5G’s capabilities allow distinct network slices that comprise different control and user plane functions, giving as many partitions of a public network as needed.

Organizations are increasingly embracing containerization and cloud-native architecture to help increase efficiency, performance, resilience, security, and agility. In short, most are embracing modern technologies that better support 5G. 

Prior modernization efforts have focused on the adoption of network function virtualization (NFV), which facilitated the replacement of legacy appliances with vertically integrated, cloud-based infrastructure. However, this approach is increasingly becoming outdated

Moving beyond simple virtualization of network functions to a cloud-native design can help achieve a new level of efficiency and agility. A distinguishing feature of a cloud-native approach is the use of containers rather than virtualization.

Containers allow developers to package everything required to operate an application, including libraries and application-specific dependencies, all within a dedicated and isolated space. This approach allows the containerized component to be efficiently moved between environments as required.

In order to harness the full power of 5G, and to minimize network complexity, modern technologies and cloud-native design and containerization are needed.

The transition from monolithic legacy applications towards microservices will provide increased scalability, higher reliability, and better integration capabilities. This also allows development teams to build and update new components without disrupting the application as a whole. Thanks to their independent construction, microservices are more efficient to build, test, deploy, and update.

5G-based networks are faster, have higher capacity and lower latency, and are more reliable than older generations. Though public 5G is already widely in use, many organizations are only now beginning to recognize the benefits of adopting 5G for their private networks.

Turning to 5G for private networks has a number of benefits over wired or wifi-based systems, as well as public 5G networks, making them the ideal choice for modern enterprises in need of a private network. A few benefits include:

  • Greater efficiency. Private 5G networks benefit from significantly increased network speed, higher bandwidth, and lower latency.
  • Increased reliability. Private 5G can provide high network reliability, with better coverage over a larger area, a greater amount of connected devices, and more consistent performance.
  • Improved security. Private 5G offers greater control for enterprises, with stronger encryption, robust authentication options, and network slicing.

Red Hat’s approach to private 5G is focused on creating solutions that offer a reliable, low-latency network with computing applications close to end users. Our solutions can be offered via service providers, network equipment providers, or enterprise partners. Private 5G implementation is increasingly focused on cloud-native design, microservices, and automation, and Red Hat platforms fully support that trend. 

Red Hat fosters strong business and technical relationships with an ecosystem of certified partners, ensuring organizations have access to the most innovative solutions for their cloud-native approach. These partner network functions are continuously validated to ensure reliability and efficiency of deployment. Red Hat also develops partner blueprints and reference architectures that allow organizations to deploy preintegrated components more efficiently from their vendor of choice, including partners outside of the telecommunication ecosystem.

Red Hat and its partners have an established track record of implementing robust private 5G solutions with Red Hat® OpenShift®. Red Hat OpenShift provides an open source, hybrid container infrastructure with real-time capabilities, monitoring, and authentication solutions. It can be scaled for use in many deployment scenarios that include private 5G. 

Another major component of efficiently deploying and operating a private 5G network is automation. Automating a single task or process is relatively straightforward, but telcos need the ability to extend automation beyond isolated systems to an entire enterprise.

Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform provides the key capabilities service providers need to build, deploy, and manage large-scale automation that can increase service velocity, improve security and compliance, and significantly reduce operational expenses.

As the interest in and need for private 5G networks continues to increase, Red Hat is committed to providing proven 5G solutions that can be deployed in a variety of architectures, from single-node on-premise implementations to widely-distributed cloud-based networks.

Learn more about Red Hat and telecommunications

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