Exclusives : Guest Post: Private 5G and Wi-Fi Can Be a Perfect Match

Guest Post: Private 5G and Wi-Fi Can Be a Perfect Match

By Karim El Malki, Vice President – Private 5G, Hewlett Packard Enterprise


The global private 5G market is growing at rates that are simply unheard of within other industries. Analysts are projecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48% and spending to reach $9bn by 2028, an increase from the $1bn seen in 2022. As the 5G rollout advances and governments continue to allocate spectrum specifically to enterprise use, predictions state that there will be more than 60,000 private 5G networks in operation by 2028. In 2022 there were just 4,000.

It’s therefore clear that we will soon see the coexistence of private 5G and Wi-Fi, a partnership that will enable new use cases for applications such as defence, transportation and sports where outdoor coverage and latency are vital. Many enterprises have also identified this opportunity, and are evaluating how they can operate private 5G networks to optimise their connectivity.


Speaking the same language

In the past, enterprises have steered clear of deploying private cellular solutions because they were deemed too complex, costly and resource-intensive to both launch and manage, especially for businesses that didn’t have the specialist expertise required to tackle such a project. But this is beginning to change.

Filling this gap are networking vendors that are already well-versed in developing and deploying solutions fit for enterprise needs. These solutions are enabling the integration of private 5G and Wi-Fi in a way that enterprises’ existing IT staff can manage, bringing abundant benefits. With streamlined security, visibility and management these staff can easily apply and manage policies across their entire network, whether cellular or Wi-Fi; cloud, on-premises or hybrid. This removes the complexity previously associated with cellular by putting it into a language that enterprises are already familiar with. Now it can be trialled and deployed in the same way as other networking solutions.


Connecting the Ryder Cup

An early example of how private 5G and Wi-Fi can be used together came from the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome. Alongside HPE Aruba Networking, the organisers successfully deployed an integrated private 5G and Wi-Fi 6e network that provided always-on connectivity to 250,000 spectators while delivering a secure, private network for the operations staff, across the 350-plus acre venue. This was done despite limited existing connectivity, archaeological restrictions that prevented digging to lay cables, and environmental factors such as poor weather.

This network enabled the event to offer fans new, enhanced experiences including real-time player locations, scores, predictions, commentary, visual shot tracking and more via an enhanced mobile app. It also connected remote areas of the course that were previously blackspots and reserved bandwidth to ensure that staff had constant access to critical and security services like stewarding and ticketing.


The enterprise need

The Ryder Cup was a unique deployment, but much of the enterprise demand for private 5G and Wi-Fi results from issues similar to those the tournament faced. This includes challenging radio environments where continuous communication is critical like expansive factory or warehouse floors with hard-to-reach areas and coverage gaps that need to be eliminated. In similar industrial settings, rapidly moving client devices need to be connected. Fortunately, private cellular connectivity was designed to operate at walking pace, meaning that it can connect wireless IoT or Industrial IoT devices to ensure near real-time data exchange.

Moving outside, there are many organisations – such as councils, airports or transport companies – that need to ensure large, outdoor areas are covered. In these situations, cabling effectively for Wi-Fi usually isn’t viable so private 5G can pave the way for applications such as smart cities. Outdoor applications also often come with public access, while requiring secure back-office communications. As shown by the Ryder Cup deployment, private cellular can be used to segregate public and back-office traffic to ensure that high-security or latency-sensitive communications aren’t hindered by public use.

Finally, there is the issue of public cellular coverage gaps, which many enterprises struggle with while also finding that typical solutions, such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), aren’t economically viable. Assuming that certain architectural challenges can be overcome, a collaboration between public network operators and private cellular networks could be leveraged to fill these gaps in the future.

With private 5G adoption expected to accelerate at unfathomable rates, enterprises are already evaluating how they can benefit from the forthcoming innovations in connectivity. From enabling smart cities to driving manufacturing efficiencies and unlocking remote healthcare, the possibilities of integrated private 5G and Wi-Fi are endless.




To reserve your ticket please fill out the registration form