UScellular Looking to Play in Public/Private Hybrid Network Space

Private wireless network provider Betacom has partnered with UScellular (NYSE: USM) to develop one of the first private/public hybrid 5G networks, providing security and control over business data, both on-premises and while roaming in between company facilities. 

“Today’s enterprises are not looking for what network is best,” said Michael Davies, VP Business Partner Strategy 5GaaS at Betacom. “They are focused on solving their challenges through technology, whether it is industrial IoT or the promise of industry 4.0. To achieve that, they want the most robust wireless connectivity.”

The private/public hybrid 5G network service provides communications on a company’s campus, while allowing connectivity between multiple sites. Betacom designs, builds and optimizes the private networks using CBRS spectrum through a Spectrum Access System, while UScellular provides nationwide coverage.

“Betacom and UScellular are breaking new ground for their customers and setting new precedents for the industry,” said Joe Madden, Founder and President, Mobile Experts Inc. “Enabling device mobility from facility to facility with a transition from CBRS to cellular in both directions has never been solved. This makes private/public hybrid 5G networks extremely valuable for a wide range of industries.”

Manufacturing, which is the vertical industry Betacom first focused on, tends to have static environments that are very device heavy. They need a robust, high-performance, low-latency network, according to Davies. 

“The factory site is a network island of sorts,” Davies said. “We realized during our conversations with manufacturers that there is also a demand for mobility — a need for an island-to-island communications strategy, if you will.”

Mobile devices use a single SIM with profiles for both Betacom private CBRS networks and the UScellular network, which ensures mobility and coordination between the companies’ 5G network cores. The private enterprise is able to maintain the desired level of control security of a private onsite network as they move off the island and onto the UScellular public network. 

“They can receive packages on the shipyard or the loading dock, and they can scan it, track it, trace it all the way through inputs through outputs, without any loss of control or security,” said Ross Harmsen, UScellular. 

Deutsche Telekom will launch a hybrid private network in 2024 at three ports owned by Eurogate in Hamburg, Bremerhaven, and Wilhelmshaven, Germany, according to STL Partners. “This [network] will enable the container terminal operator to deploy digital logistics applications even more securely and flexibly in the future – with exclusive bandwidth, high availability and full 5G performance. To this end, Eurogate will use its own 5G industrial frequencies in the 3.7 to 3.8 GHz range,” Deutsche Telecom said.

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor 

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