The past six months haven’t quite proven that private wireless networks are taking the world by storm, as US and European operators only touted a sprinkling of new deals.

However, they still anticipate substantial future revenues for 4G/5G private and hybrid private/public connectivity, as well as for advanced services for private network design, testing, PoC, integration, application enablement, edge computing, and ongoing management. Technology enhancements and partnerships made up the bulk of announcements.

Private network announcements

Over the last six months, most private network-related announcements from US and European operators have focused on trials/deployments with new customers (although there were fewer than anticipated), technology and application partnerships, and for some, the first commercial launches of private network services that have been in trial, or technology enhancements such as 5G SA that add to the capabilities of the network itself.

The following announcements or public comments were made from April 2023 to September 2023 from leading operators AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange Business, T-Mobile, Telefonica, Verizon, and Vodafone

US operators

The SVP of Business Marketing for AT&T stated publicly that Private 5G remains a “wait-and-see” service and that AT&T is cautious, as deployment and management models still need to be figured out. She described it as being in the “continued experimentation, starting-to-scale space”, and AT&T wants to make sure that there is enough infrastructure deployed to be able to use it extensively. AT&T also noted that it is not likely to deploy Private 5G outside the US, especially if deployments are custom and complex, and customers must deal with different regulatory environments. However, AT&T disclosed a $10m 5G private network deal with the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to support airport operations and provide reliable, high-capacity connectivity

Verizon Business partnered with Pryor Creek Music Festivals to cover their 975k sq. ft. Oklahoma event space with a Celona-based private 5G local-area network, powering critical applications and secure connectivity. Verizon Business is also deploying a private 5G network for the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, which will offer advanced clinical capabilities including AR-assisted presurgical guidance and virtual 3D X-rays incorporating computerized tomography and MRI scans. It will also use VR-assisted medical learning involving 3D models of human organs and use of digital twins.

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By GlobalData

T-Mobile and Google Cloud announced they are working together to combine 5G and edge compute, giving enterprises more ways to embrace digital transformation. T-Mobile will connect the 5G ANS suite of public, private and hybrid 5G networks with Google Distributed Cloud Edge to help customers embrace 5G applications and use cases such as AR/VR experiences. T-Mobile and Bradley University in Illinois announced that the university will utilize a 5G Hybrid Mobile Network from T-Mobile leveraging the operator’s Advanced Network Solutions capabilities, as part of Bradley’s mission to deliver innovative learning experiences for students and improve operational efficiencies.

European operators

Ericsson and Vodafone Ireland installed a standalone 5G Mobile Private Network (MPN) solution for the Ireland rugby team for in-play data analysis, before the 2023 Rugby World Cup in September. Previously the team relied on WiFi across stadiums and training facilities. The solution will offer instant feedback on team plays and tactics. Vodafone Spain announced commercial roll out of its managed Mobile Private Network (MPN) solution, dubbed MPN 2.0. The service is available internationally and is managed from the Vodafone Innovation Hub in Málaga, Spain.  Vodafone UK announced its new Mobile Private Network (MPN) solution offering, thus becoming the first UK telecoms operator to standardize a standalone (SA) 5G MPN product.

BT announced a five-year contract with the British Army to provide a managed Wi-Fi service across 162 new UK army facilities, but the contract also includes plans for private 5G which has been integrated at one base already.

DT launched Campus Network Smart, a low-cost, SME-focused solution based on Microsoft Azure private MEC which integrates cloud-managed applications at the edge.

Telefonica has a new partnership with Nokia in Latin America where the partners are targeting ports, mining, energy, and manufacturing. Telefonica Virgin Media O2 launched a “private 5G-in-a-box” solution with Nokia in the UK to try to make the technology more accessible to SMEs.

For this six-month period, GlobalData rated Vodafone as the leader in cellular private network services among these US and European operators, due in part to its traction (it claims to have over 60 MPN customers across several hundred sites), its recent wins and new services, and innovations such as its Integrated Frontline Worker programs which feature bundles for different kinds of environments. Admittedly, it is hard to know which operator is leading the pack because the market is still immature, not all deals are disclosed, and strong partners such as infrastructure vendors, hyperscalers, and systems integrators realize some of the MPN revenues involved in deployments.