With early investment in the infrastructure driven by demand from mission-critical organisations, and with more spectrum being made available for enterprise uses, the inaugural forecast for the worldwide private LTE/5G infrastructure market from International Data Corporation (IDC) is predicting a boom for the dedicated architectures for enterprises until 2024.
IDC defines a private LTE/5G infrastructure as any 3GPP-based LTE and/or 5G network deployed for a specific enterprise/industrial customer that provides dedicated access. That definition includes networks that may utilise dedicated (licensed, unlicensed, or shared) spectrum, dedicated infrastructure, and private devices embedded with unique SIM identifiers.
IDC also sees private LTE/5G infrastructure as those carrying traffic native to a specific organisation, with no shared resources in use by any third-party entities.
Given this basis, the analyst calculates revenue attributable to the sales of private LTE/5G infrastructure will grow from $945m (£695m) in 2019 to an estimated $5.7bn (£4.2bn) in 2024 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.4%. This includes aggregated spending on RAN, core, and transport infrastructure.
While it said that currently many of the verticals of private LTE and private 5G overlap in both use case and network needs, IDC said that the market opportunity can be categorised in three segments: mission-critical, industrial and traditional enterprise or business-critical.
In the former category, IDC saw verticals that require always-on connectivity addressable through redundancy and dedicated resource, as well as the clear need or desire for mobile site connectivity. Loss of connectivity would likely result in significant negative business or operational outcomes for such companies.
In industrial, there were seen to be verticals whose primary focus is process and industrial automation for Industry 4.0, also generally involving providing high-capacity and ultra-reliable low-latency communication (5G URLLC) either with time-sensitive networking (TSN), or as an alternative.
Business-critical verticals were those that require deterministic wireless networking beyond traditional Wi-Fi, but where redundancy and automation needs are lower. These included applications, where loss of connectivity could result in loss of revenue.
“Private LTE infrastructure is already used by select verticals worldwide to solve mission-critical networking challenges,” said Patrick Filkins, senior research analyst of the internet of things and mobile network infrastructure. “However, the barrier to consumption has remained high, limiting adoption to organisations possessing in-house competency and access to dedicated spectrum.
“With more spectrum being made available for enterprise uses, coinciding with the arrival of commercial 5G, interest has grown toward using private LTE/5G solutions as a basis for connectivity across a multitude of mission-critical, industrial and traditional enterprise organisations.”
IDC added that many organisations are currently deploying private LTE, and a select few are beginning to deploy private 5G in limited instances.
In what it said was part of its continued investment in such infrastructures and its network-as-a-service strategy, leading operator Verizon Business launched in October 2020 its international private 5G platform for global enterprises located in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Days later, BT and Belfast Harbour announced plans to build a private 5G ecosystem in the port to provide a basis to deliver a series of 5G-led innovations to accelerate the harbour’s digital transformation and help deliver its smart port strategic ambitions. In December 2020, Nokia began deploying an industrial-grade extension of its 5G standalone (SA) private wireless networking as part of Germany’s 5G4KMU project.