Deployment Options Are Coming For Private 5G

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – eWEEK.

Cisco has announced a private 5G managed service option, which could complement existing Wi-Fi deployments.

There is perhaps no hotter current topic in networking than private 5G (P5G). Finally, a wireless technology that’s as fast as wired networks but without the flakiness of Wi-Fi.

I’m certainly not suggesting that Wi-Fi is going away, as the low-cost relative to P5G and its near ubiquity make it ideal for general purpose connectivity. But if ultra-reliable, wireless connectivity is required, P5G is the only way.

Cisco, the de facto standard in networking, had yet to announce its plans in this area but it did so recently. To get an idea of the industry impact of having Cisco endorse P5G with its own solution, I recently talked to Ozer Dondurmacioglu, vice president of marketing at Celona. I tapped Celona as they were the pioneer in P5G and currently partners with the likes of Aruba Networks, now a part of HPE Enterprise, NTT with others coming.

We discussed Cisco’s approach versus Celona, how private 5G and Wi-Fi complement each other, their different use cases, and why a company like Cisco would be interested in private 5G.

Highlights of my ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.

  • Cisco recently announced its own private 5G managed service and high-end Wi-Fi 6E access points, targeting businesses with hybrid work environments. Cisco’s entry into private 5G shows there is a growing ecosystem of 5G networking services and devices to support critical infrastructure for hybrid work. The Cisco launch validates the need for this technology.
  • Cisco’s approach is to leverage its service provider channel and offer P5G as a managed service. Celona chose to go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route with a solution that network pros can deploy and manage themselves. Celona is also developing certifications to ensures engineers have the proper skills to deploy.
  • Managed services create an “as a service” option for business that want to offload operations of the P5G network. Neither is “better” per se but are complementary and create deployment options for customers. NTT will use Celona as part of their managed service. It’s likely many organizations will choose to start with a DIY solution and build a managed service layer on top as they scale.
  • Cisco’s simultaneous release of private 5G and Wi-Fi 6E makes sense because they are designed to coexist as separate, yet complementary solutions. Wi-Fi and 5G can be deployed side-by-side in various settings, such as hospitals. Devices and guest users can connect to a Wi-Fi network, while patient bedside systems can go wireless and connect to private 5G. Both would be managed by the same networking team.
  • Wi-Fi itself is going through an evolutionary process, with Wi-Fi 6E promising faster speeds, lower latency, and less congestion. Wi-Fi 6E is based on the same standard as WiFi 6, but it uses an extended spectrum. Wi-Fi 6E is not a substitute for private 5G since they are two distinct technologies that use different spectrums.
  • The use cases for Wi-Fi 6E and private 5G will likely be different. Ad hoc network connectivity can be provided by Wi-Fi, whereas mission-critical connectivity is better suited for private 5G. There is more control over the quality of service (QoS) with private 5G because it’s clean spectrum and very infrastructure dependent.
  • One Celona customer, California State University Stanislaus, deployed a private 5G as a backup wireless network to support remote learning and temporary research facilities on campus. Additionally, Wi-Fi traffic is backhauled over the network, so the university doesn’t have to invest in costly fiber when it installs surveillance cameras in the future. The Wi-Fi is reserved for students, while everything else runs on a different spectrum.
  • Organizations considering private 5G should start by evaluating the performance of their applications over Wi-Fi—what works well and what doesn’t. This should be a joint effort between the networking teams and the application delivery teams. When both teams focus on the networking layer, they’ll get more out of their private 5G deployment.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.