Network Slicing vs Private Networks

:pizza: Slicing has been talked about in the 5G circles for quite some time now.

It is supposed to be one of the many ways operators will monetize 5G networks by selling slices of their networks to enterprise customers.

:factory:. But then came the “lightly licensed” spectrums like the CBRS, which have an impetus to this whole notion that an enterprise can build its very own private 5G/LTE cellular network.

It is not expected to be an expensive proposition either.

:point_right:t4: Concepts like Open RAN along with Facebook’s magma like core network components can make it quite reasonable.

Major telecom vendors like Ericsson & Nokia are not taking sides.

They are developing solutions that would enable both slicing as well as private cellular.

Which way the enterprises would tilt, only time can tell.

Slicing may be advantageous if one is looking for a national coverage but is ok to share the network.

Private networks may be more suited to enterprises who do not want to share any hardware and/or software infra with other enterprises, want more control & security (like hospitals, airports, manufacturing).

:handshake: I believe, both will coexist.

Also, do I hear somebody saying “Hybrid”?

We see dedicated private networks and network slicing as two (of many) different ways of building a ‘private network’. In this article, we explore what each of these deployment models are and how they compare against each other.

Dedicated private networks and slicing: Under the same umbrella

There are multiple ways of building a private cellular network, each of them varies in terms of the level of physical and logical isolation of (or integration with) the public network and ownership of the different network functions. This results in a wide range of services under the banner of ‘private networks’ with different combinations of spectrum, radio and core networking from public mobile operators, enterprises themselves and/or other third parties.

In our report ‘Private networks: Lessons so far and what next’, we summarise these into three main models of deploying private cellular networks and explore these in more detail:

  • Dedicated private network
  • Network slicing
  • Partially integrated hybrid network

This article will purely focus on the first two and assess the differences between the two. We will explore the partially integrated hybrid network model in a separate article.

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