It’s no longer news: COVID-19 changed how many businesses operate, accelerating digital transformation across industries at breakneck speed. Several organizations are now adopting a more data-driven, hands-off approach to decision-making. The result? There is now more data available than at any other time in history, with Statista putting the number at 79 zettabytes in 2021 — a number that’s expected to double by 2025, reaching 180 zettabytes.
These enormous volumes of data underscore the need for faster internet speed and data processing capabilities, and that’s what NTT, an IT infrastructure and services company, seeks to solve. Today, the company announced a partnership with Cisco, a global leader in the IT and networking space, to deliver “a private 5G (P5G) infrastructure that provides a secure low-latency solution.”
In the last year, P5G has grown in adoption and this, according to Raz Kivelevich Carmi, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Israel-based indoor wireless technology company Cellium, is because of P5G’s multiple use cases.
One such use case, says Carmi, is how P5G allows high capacity for deployment of private networks in private facilities that prefer to use secure, fast, and reliable data access within their organizations. Another use case, according to Shahid Ahmed, NTT’s executive VP of New Ventures and Innovation, is how NTT recently deployed its joint P5G solution across a university campus to enable connectivity while also maintaining complete visibility and control of key network functions, including the speed at which data travels across the campus.
“P5G’s IoT capabilities facilitate industry automation (Industry 4.0),” adds Carmi, and in agreement is Ahmed who told ITProToday that NTT’s collaboration with Cisco will be a major driver to actualize the full range of Industry 4.0’s capabilities.
Collaborating to drive Industry 4.0 capabilities
In collaborating with Cisco, Ahmed believes “the private 5G solution will rapidly enable critical Industry 4.0 capabilities that would otherwise be impossible, such as push-to-talk communications, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), always-connected PCs (for digital frontline workers), machine vision (e.g. predictive maintenance, person out of place, PPE detection, etc.) and more.”
Ahmed notes that the private 5G solution will not only help enterprises fast-track their network modernization initiatives with better, faster, and more reliable connectivity. It will also give them complete control and visibility through one pane of glass as well as better security — three things that are currently not possible with carrier 5G or WiFi alone, he adds.
“These capabilities are critical for various sectors, including manufacturing and automotive, logistics and retail, healthcare, retail, and public sectors.”
NTT’s P5G will speed up connectivity, but how?
According to Ahmed, “P5G runs on a cloud-first architecture, allowing clients to maintain granular control over their modern digital network, IT/OT environments, and AR/VR developments. By enabling true granular micro-slicing capabilities, traffic within the facilities and warehouses can be segmented according to enterprise IT/OT SLA needs.” But what does that mean?
It means that the solution provides seamless global roaming between private and public 5G networks in nearly 200 destinations covered with direct network access agreements with over 70 countries. Using NTT’s P5G, with the NTT Global SIM, enterprise mobile applications can connect securely to a public 5G network when they leave the enterprise private network, then reconnect once they have returned. This gives enterprises the option to move between enterprise locations and take advantage of public networks at various parts of their journey, all the while remaining secure within the CIO’s domain.
It is not a ride without bumps though, notes Ahmed. First, he says, P5G requires an ecosystem in order to be successfully deployed globally and make a true impact on enterprises. With others following NTT’s first-to-market offering into the market, this validates the market and helps build out the ecosystem.
“Second, NTT’s P5G is unique. It’s the first commercially available private LTE/5G Network-as-a-Service full stack solution which can be delivered on-premises, at the edge or as a cloud service, with enterprise-focused, flexible deployment options.”
There are several other players coming to the Private 5G space, especially from the carrier camp, cloud services provider camp, and internet service provider (ISP) camp. But Ahmed says NTT sees it as a positive, rather than a competition that needs to be stopped cold.
“NTT P5G allows enterprises to innovate with private 5G for smart manufacturing, modernize hyper-distributed digital networks, and secure IT/OT environments. The solution provides CIOs with a strategic alternative to deploying granular wireless connectivity and controls over their manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and other enterprise premises. The offering is pre-integrated with leading network suppliers, offering clients the flexibility to seamlessly work with any industry certified 4G and 5G applications. This means that many of these other players have and will collaborate with us. We see the competitive market as a good thing for us, the other players, and the enterprises needing P5G. Everyone wins,” says Ahmed.