5G telecommunication continues to grow, empowering users with access to super-fast networks with upload and download speeds that are up to 5 times faster than 4G – with more to come. But there’s a private side to 5G many security people might find even more to their liking.

We know that 5G offers extraordinary performance in communications applications. Installed across cities, the technology opens mobile data speeds to all sorts of demanding applications – many of which the pandemic has nudged further to the front, some of which have long been the province of cabled networks.

Something worth pointing out is that in more mature 5G markets, like Korea, 5G users are now consuming 2-3 times more data than 4G users and are happy to pay for it. 5G adoption is turbo-charged – it’s expected the world will hit 1 billion 5G subscribers much faster than the 18 months or so that process took with 4G. In 2021, it’s expected 525 million 5G smartphones will be sold globally and the projection for 2022 is 725 million.

One of the things about 5G is that it’s accepted the technology will drive the growth of Internet of Things – a world in which ever more connected devices can be monitored and managed. But while there are consumer expectations for 5G-empowered IoT, the biggest opportunities are thought to be in 5G enterprise solutions – a market segment that’s been projected to reach $700 billion globally by 2030. That’s a huge development.

The key thing is that 5G is not only a mobile telephony that can span large areas – thanks to its short wavelengths, 5G works even better in local applications. Used site-wide, private 5G (non-public network is the 3GPP term) can be deployed very quickly to create very fast, very secure, and extremely robust wireless networks with more than enough bandwidth to scale into monster use cases – the transmission of hundreds of highly encrypted video streams, for instance.

5G is so good and so compelling that it forms a foundational argument for partnerships – something we talked about in SEN’s last issue. Private 5G offers massive improvements in network availability, reliability, interworking and quality of service, where it nearly eliminates horrors like latency, jitter and packet drop – it also provides fingertip monitoring of these and other nasties from anywhere on the network, allowing resources to pivot to priorities.

In Germany the government has already granted 88 private 5G licenses to large organisations, particularly industry, and Japanese companies are lining up, too. In France, Charles De Gaulle and Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget airports are building a combined private 5G network in partnership with Air France. Cementing the shift, the U.S. market for private 5G is projected to explode – it will be worth around $US200 billion by 2030.

What’s the benefit of private 5G and how could it facilitate networked electronic security solutions? In the French case, the joint airport solution will deliver high quality comms to 120,000 employees, supporting voice, data and video transmissions. The network will also support transmissions for emergency systems and services, as well as core services like luggage tracking. Of particular note, Air France’s mid-term goal is to have all its comms devices connected to this secure, fast private 5G network.

The nature of the French solution highlights another strength of private 5G – it is highly customisable. Instead of going cap in hand to a telco and trying to squeeze your requirements into fixed telephony products, private 5G can be designed and built to an end user’s specifications and then managed internally to ensure best possible performance and fastest possible reaction to issues. Something else that’s high value is that 5G is an inside or outside network, which considerably simplifies the process of maintaining legacy hybrid infrastructure on large sites.

Private 5G is typically at the centre of a whole-of-organisation digital transformation with motivations covering high bandwidth and low latency, but its capabilities make it perfectly suited to high security comms, bandwidth-hungry CCTV, real time analytics monitoring and plenty more. Private 5G might cover one large site, or it could be deployed in an enterprise application, like a rail system. For security managers, Private 5G forms the arteries of epic situational awareness and for integrators it makes networking much simpler.

What does all this mean for security managers, consultants and integrators? It means they will need to be open to the possibilities – not only of technology but of trusted partnerships. More than any other networking technology, private 5G embodies the 3 key security principles of confidentiality, integrity and availability. In a future of digital transformation built on trusted partnerships, siloed communication will be a poor option.

Security professionals should consider that unlike other networking technologies, 5G was designed at the start for critical comms – the 3GPP standard for 5G, Rel-15 – Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) feature set – outlines these characteristics, while the latest Rel-16 forms an industry use case to deliver wider private 5G integration. These qualities give private 5G the scope to be whatever network it’s required to be.

Private 5G Drivers Include:

* First-gen narrowband mission-critical networks are end of life – they are looking for a futureproof path

* Industry 4.0-related productivity gains driven by mobility for unconnected sites, enterprise connectivity and more

* A need for improved data security – many systems need to be impervious to attack

* Bandwidth hungry applications, including monitoring and video surveillance supported by video analytics are growing

* 3GPP technologies are maturing and their use cases are becoming harder to ignore

* Digital transformation and push towards automation accelerating.

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