Speaking Engagements & Private Workshops - Get Dean Bubley to present or chair your event

Need an experienced, provocative & influential telecoms keynote speaker, moderator/chair or workshop facilitator?
To see recent presentations, and discuss Dean Bubley's appearance at a specific event, click here

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Overlapping private networks - an emerging challenge for spectrum management

This post originally appeared in September 2023 on my LinkedIn feed, which is now my main platform for both short posts and longer-form articles. It can be found here, along with the comment stream. Please follow / connect to me on LinkedIn, to receive regular updates (about 1-3 / week)

File this one under “high quality problems”!
We’re starting to see a trend towards multiple enterprise private 5G networks on the same site, or very close to each other. That has a lot of implications.

Various large campus-style environments such as ports, airports and maybe business parks, industrial zones and others in future, will need to deal with the coexistence of several company-specific #5G networks.

For instance, an airport might have different networks deployed at the gates for aircraft turnaround, in the baggage-handling area for machinery, across the ramp area for vehicles, in the terminals for neutral host access, and in maintenance hangars for IoT and AR/VR.

Importantly, these may be deployed, owned and run by *different* companies - the airport authority, airlines, baggage handlers and a contracted indoor service provider, perhaps. In addition there could be other nearby private networks outside the airport fence, for hotels, warehouses and car parks.

This is something I speculated about a few years ago (I dug out the slide below from early 2020), but it is now starting to become a reality.

This is likely to need some clever coordination in terms of #spectrum management, as well as other issues such as roaming/interconnect and perhaps numbering resources such as MNC codes as well. It may need new forms of #neutralhost or multi-tenant setups.
Yesterday I attended a workshop run by the UK’s UK Spectrum Policy Forum. While the main focus was on the 3.8-4.2GHz band and was under Chatham House rule (so I can't cover the specifics), one speaker has allowed me to discuss his comments directly.

Koen Mioulet from European private network association EUWENA gave an example of the Port of Rotterdam, which has 5 different terminals, 3000 businesses including large facilities run by 28 different chemical companies. It already has two #PrivateLTE networks, and 5G used on a "container exchange route" for vehickes, plus more possible networks on ships themselves. It is quite possible to imagine 10+ overlapping networks in future.
While the UK has 400MHz potentially available in 3.8-4.2GHz, some countries only have 50-100MHz for P5G. That would pose significant coordination challenges and may necessitate an "umbrella" network run by (in this case) the Port Authority or similar organisation. An added complexity is synchronisation, especially if each network is set up for different uplink/downlink splits for specific applications.

MNOs could be involved too, in roles from wholesale provision, down to just spectrum leasing. Whatever happens, regulators and others need to start thinking about this.

In the past I’ve half-jokingly suggested that a new 6G target metric should be to have “1000 networks per sq km” rather than the usual “million devices per sq km” or similar.

Maybe we should start with 10 or 100 nearby networks, but that joke is now looking like a real problem, albeit a healthy one for the private cellular industry.


No comments: