I don’t know about you, but the summer feels like it’s speeding by. Maybe it’s the fact that the country is opening up and I can finally get out and enjoy doing things that I love with family and friends, like sailing on the beautiful Puget Sound.
It also feels good to be meeting with customers in person again. In fact, as I write this, I’m flying to visit a customer who will be starting a private wireless trial with us in a few weeks. I can’t share the details just yet, but this is an important proof of concept with a large customer that will allow us to exercise every aspect of our new 5G-as-a-Service offering. We won’t just be measuring network performance but demonstrating the operational efficiency gains that a well-designed private wireless network can offer.
As I talk to customers, three main themes keep surfacing. The first, of course, is security. Any new network must be designed to help Enterprises effectively face the growing threat of cybersecurity attacks, and IoT devices can be particularly vulnerable. We’ve built network security into every element of our service, with a Zero Trust design principle. Our solution is based on 4G/5G standards, using both SIMs and multifactor authentication to ensure that only authorized devices are allowed onto the network. All network components are deployed behind the Enterprise firewall, and traffic is separated so that customer data stays inside the business. The data we use to monitor and manage the network is encrypted end-to-end, adding additional security without impacting network performance or bandwidth. We manage the network from a modern Network Operations Center that we call a Security and Service Operations Center (SSOC). The SSOC is a cloud-based service that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to proactively monitor the network and dynamically respond to threats in real time.
A second key topic, and one that is starting to show up in RFPs, is that Wi-Fi networks have reached their limits for providing reliable connectivity for business-critical applications. Today’s Wi-Fi networks can be great for consumers – for passengers and patients and fans. Due to congestion, though, they often can’t be relied on in the same locations to provide reliable connectivity for the staff at airports, hospitals, and stadiums. When businesses need to rely on wireless to download telemetry data from airplanes, to send high-definition imaging, or to run point-of-sale applications in an arena that holds 100,000 people, they require the performance and reliability that only private cellular networks can provide.
The third area that our customers are exploring, especially large customers who are serving multiple constituents inside their business, is network slicing. The easiest way to talk about this is to give an example. In a large multipurpose arena that might hold a sporting event today and a music event over the weekend, there can be many conflicting business needs for wireless network resources. From digital signs and payment automation in the parking lot, to touchless entry kiosks, to cashier-less concessions, to luxury suite HD video services, and even to team communications on the field, each stakeholder has a business-critical need for network access and data privacy. Our private network solution allows us to provide discrete slices of the network for each of these services without impacting performance, and we provide visibility into Key Performance Indicators for complete IT network assurance.
I know I’ll learn more as I head into that next customer meeting, and frankly this is the part of my job that I absolutely love.