Private Networks: Lessons Learned from Early Adopters

Airport control tower exterior

The more projects we deploy at airports, the more I realize airports really are like mini cities, managing thousands of employees and passengers, complex logistics, retail stores, restaurants, security – all in a relatively small and dense space. As a result, enterprises of all sizes can learn a lot from airports, among the early adopters of private wireless networks. From optimal use cases to measuring operational efficiency to security best practices, airports and airlines are showing us how reliable wireless connectivity can offer an immediate return on investment for business-critical applications.

Here are some examples of the areas where Wi-Fi is insufficient or overloaded and private wireless networks are helping airports achieve their business objectives: 

  • Above Wing Operations: Customer service agents and lounge service crews connect to business applications on tablets via private wireless throughout the airport.  This enhances boarding at the gate, staff communications, and the passenger experience.
  • Below Wing Operations: Private wireless solutions are deployed throughout the airport so ramp agents, guest service agents, fleet services, mechanics, engineers, and logistics managers can connect to business-critical applications with barcode scanners, smart devices, and IoT asset trackers.
  • Check-In: Using dedicated wireless connectivity, biometric check-in kiosks and digital signs are flexibly located where they are needed most.
  • Passenger Connectivity: As airport business traffic is moved to the private network, the airport can create an exclusive Wi-Fi network that leverages the private wireless backbone for passengers.
  • Retail Operations: With network slicing, network segments are dedicated to specific stakeholders including retailers for connecting point-of-sale, machine vision, retail analytics, and security applications.
  • Building Operations: Airports are connecting building management, HVAC, fire alarms, lighting, utilities, and elevator systems to achieve optimal heating, cooling, & lighting; reduce utility costs, and enable predictive maintenance.
  • Security: Cameras and CCTVs enabled with biometrics applications are used to respectfully track passenger and employee movement. The system can also be used to provide VIPs with high-value services.

It’s not hard to make the connection between the types of applications private networks enable at airports to the types of applications other industries can benefit from. 

  • Manufacturing facilities that need reliable robotics
  • Warehouses that require logistics automation to streamline operations
  • Large retail environments that need flexible store layouts and computer vision for consumer insights

Enterprises big and small across market segments are seeing operational efficiency and cost savings from deploying new private wireless networks.

So, what are some of the lessons learned from our customer deployments – things that enterprises should consider as you finalize decisions to move forward with your own deployments? There are definitely some key considerations to address early on for a measurably successful outcome.

  • Determine your business-critical applications – Which applications require maximum security, high-speed performance, mobility, and low-latency? Are they indoors or outdoors? Are you choosing a flexible solution that can address your needs today and scale for tomorrow? 
  • Assess your existing infrastructure and IT team capabilities – Do you have 4G/5G expertise in house?  Do you have the time and resources to train your team on new technology? Can they plan, design, install and manage the network? Have you considered a full turn-key service that can implement the network for you at a price you can afford?
  • Consider potential operational disruptions during installation – Installing a network to improve your business means not disrupting your business. How do you cause minimal impact to your employees, passengers, patients and guests during installation and startup? Are you working with an experienced partner who understands your environment and will work with you to minimize issues?
  • Evaluate network support, reliability, and visibility – Are you choosing a managed service provider who will monitor and manage the network 24×7?  Will they proactively respond to both network operations and security issues? Will they provide you with Service Level Agreements? Will they give you access a network dashboard so your IT Team can have full visibility into network performance? 
  • Double click on security – it’s vital to your business – Are you choosing a solution that reduces rather than raises the security threat to your organization? How will security be monitored? Can your solution provider detect and respond to threats before they cause serious issues?  Do they provide a periodic threat assessment? Will your company data stay inside your premises or be exposed to the Internet? 
  • Fully investigate pricing models – Are you working with a partner who offers a transparent pricing plan, with no hidden fees or sudden hikes? Are you interested in a CapEx or OpEx model, or do you want to flexibility of both options? Will you have to pay for access to your own data?

Admittedly I’m biased, but I know our customers agree that the Betacom 5G-as-a-Service solution ticks all the boxes. Let’s talk about how our team of experts in 4G/5G technology and in private network deployment is ready to start working for your enterprise. We look forward to discussing how Betacom 5GaaS can support your modernization and innovation strategies.  Please contact us to get the conversation started.

Brian Watkins
EVP, Business Development and Sales