Tech firms add to private 5G offer, but ABI warns of no mass take-off in 2023

Even as comms tech providers announce partnership to extend technical capability of private 5G platform, analyst warns private 5G will not yet take off in 2023, even if outdoor use cases drive private cellular in general

Predictions for the coming year’s technology winners are expected in January, but just as a study from ABI Research forecasts 2023 will see outdoor use cases drive private cellular networks, it warns that private 5G won’t yet take off – despite the expectations of many and news that Ericsson and Cradlepoint have announced a new addition to the former’s private networks offering as a complement to its Private 5G offer.

In its report, 74 technology trends that will – and will not – shape 2023, analysts from the global technology intelligence firm identify trends that it believes will shape the technology market and others that, although attracting vast amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next twelve months. In the 5G Markets space, ABI cites outdoor use cases as driving private cellular, but adds that private 5G won’t take off. 

ABI said what has started throughout 2022 already will continue and become even more prominent in 2023. It believes old battle lines between Wi-Fi and, specifically, 5G, are reappearing, as the most tangible value proposition for enterprises seems to be the fact that, in comparison with Wi-Fi, private cellular, and 5G specifically, will be able to bring connectivity to particularly large and remote coverage areas.

The analyst noted that a private cellular network will be able to connect these outdoor sites such oil or gas fields, airfields of airports, or shipping ports far more efficiently than other wireless connectivity technologies like legacy Wi-Fi. This, it said, creates a real value proposition for enterprise owners and managers.

Yet at the same time, the analyst does not believe that private 5G will take off in 2023. It notes that, in line with critical enterprise 5G features – namely URLLC and Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) – only starting to appear in commercially available chipsets by the end of 2023, Release 16-capable industrial-grade devices will be available at scale by the first quarter of 2024. Noting that as only the large-scale availability of Release 16-capable chipsets will drive down device costs, and ease the Private 5G value proposition, ABI expects 5G to begin to pick up only after the start of the following year.

Yet the new Cradlepoint NetCloud Private Network offering, said to be tailored to the needs of dynamic enterprise IT, has now been added to Ericsson Private Networks services as a complement to Ericsson private 5G offers.

In making their move, the firms cite IDC research predicting the worldwide private LTE/5G market will top USD 8.3 billion in revenue in 2026 – with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 35.7% across 2022-2026, the potential opportunity in the market is huge.

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The addition is intended to allow any company, no matter the size or use case, to be able to deploy a private cellular network through Ericsson in the confidence that their needs will be met.

The subscription-based software-defined NetCloud Private Networks offering will have an initial focus on traditionally lean IT-oriented enterprises, including the logistics, light manufacturing, government, large retail, healthcare and hospitality sectors.

Ericsson claims it now offers one of the most comprehensive private network portfolios in the industry as enterprises and industries worldwide embrace digitisation and Industry 4.0.

“Whether you’re a company deploying a private cellular network or a communications service provider reselling a private network solution, having a vendor that can address a broad set of use cases is paramount,” said Will Townsend, senior analyst for carrier and enterprise networking at technology analyst company Moor Insights.

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