In October, Harbor Research of Boulder, Colorado, published “The Private LTE Opportunity for Industrial and Commercial IoT” to explain how a new generation of wireless technology — private LTE networks — is unleashing an age of pervasive connectivity and awareness that is fostering entirely new and more efficient modes of customer interaction and service connectivity, as the report put it.
The report says that the term wireless connectivity implies universal connectivity, but Harbor Research says universal connectivity is yet to be seen in business-critical domains such as manufacturing, supply chain, transportation systems and energy. “Instead, we see a fragmented landscape full of proprietary device networks, cautious users and buyers, and broken promises about the potential of wireless technologies,” the report reads. “Amid all this noise and clutter, a new generation of wireless communications developed for challenging environments has emerged.”
According to Harbor Research, private LTE networking technology — LTE-based wireless technology for local and independent networks — enables users and customers to integrate diverse sensors, machines, people, vehicles and more across a wide range of applications and usage scenarios. The report says private LTE networking technology treats user concerns — from reliability and service quality, to security and compliance — as challenges that can be addressed by a single, scalable wireless networking solution that makes use of LTE’s technology and ecosystem benefits.
“In taking this perspective, private LTE networks are jumping ahead of the current market confusion about wireless connectivity and are re-defining how value is created from devices and data,” the report reads. “Key solutions for this new breed of private LTE network are LTE-based solutions using the U.S.-specific Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5-GHz band, MulteFire LTE technology for global unlicensed spectrum such as the 5-GHz band, or dedicated licensed spectrum.”
Looking at the future for LTE with MulteFire and CBRS technologies, the report says that the current state of industrial and business critical environments point to an inflection point in networking technology evolution. According to Harbor Research, the demand to connect more devices and make use of data-driven services is transforming the way original equipment manufacturers, end users and technology suppliers interact. This will continually be hindered if wireless networks continue to isolate device groups in heterogeneous industrial environments, the report says.
The report draws the conclusion that the private LTE model introduces a potential remedy to the current fragmentation of the industrial wireless market. “Fragmentation will be continually addressed as prospects of 5G will bring improved reliability and latency capabilities to the market,” the report reads. “Those who develop the private LTE market will inherently drive the next steps towards 5G via investment in the distributed network infrastructure. The private LTE opportunity is here now and should be captured independently of the 5G timeline.” (See the figure on the next page.)
Harbor Research reports that the efforts of the CBRS and MulteFire Alliances represent the initial steps towards creating the collaborative ecosystem necessary to develop a new generation of industrial wireless networks. It gives as an example the Nokia, Qualcomm and GE partnership with industrial deployments of private LTE that will provide tangible evidence of the potential disruption that private LTE will bring to the industrial wireless industry.
The report cites another instance of ecosystem innovation in which Huawei has effectively deployed private LTE solutions across shipping ports, mine sites and oil exploration platforms achieving better coverage, capacity and availability that improves the overall security, efficiency and sustainability of operations.
“Strategic partnerships will enable the means for significant wireless penetration with the caveat that these networks will ultimately need to be interoperable and easily integrated into existing infrastructure,” the report says. “Private LTE network technology is setting the stage for a new chapter in smart connected wireless systems. The growth of wireless connectivity is not only inevitable, but it is necessary to engage in the next evolutionary step of smart systems. So the question should not focus on when or whether we will reach this next chapter, but rather who will engage in the collaborative efforts to turn the page.”
To view the entire Harbor Research report, “The Private LTE Opportunity for Industrial and Commercial IoT,” visit www.multefire.org/specification/harbor-research-whitepaper-download-form/.
Don Bishop joined AGL Media Group in 2004. He helped to launch and was the founding editor of AGL Magazine, the AGL Bulletin email newsletter (now AGL eDigest) and DAS and Small Cells magazine (now AGL Small Cell Magazine). He served as host for AGL Conferences from 2010 to 2012, appearing at 12 conferences. Bishop writes and otherwise obtains editorial content published in AGL Magazine, AGL eDigest and the AGL Media Group website. Bishop also photographs and films conferences and conventions. Many of his photographs have appeared on the cover, in articles and in the “AGL Tower of the Month” center spread photo feature in AGL Magazine. During his time with Wiesner Publishing, Primedia Business Information and AGL Media Group, he helped to launch several magazines and edited or managed editorial departments for a dozen magazines and their associated websites, newsletters and live event coverage. He is a former property manager, radio station owner and CEO of a broadcast engineering consulting firm. He was elected a Fellow of the Radio Club of America in 1988, received its Presidents Award in 1993, and served on its board of directors for nine years. Don Bishop may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.