Public 5G is available to anyone in the general public with a 5G-capable device and an account with the corresponding service provider. A private 5G networks is accessible only by users authorized by the network's operator, which can be a government agency, corporation or other private organization.
For commercial access to public 5G networks, a business contracts with a carrier for usage of the carrier’s public LTE and 5G services to connect their fleet of 5G-capable devices, such as smartphones, tablets, internet of things (IoT) sensors and wireless routers. The carrier might allocate its network resources to be shared at a higher priority than for that of consumers, but such resources are never fully dedicated to the business, and the typical commercial model is a per-device subscription for the entire fleet, whether they use the network or not.
Advantages of Private 5G for Business:
- Control over the quantity of users and types of devices
- Greater control over quality of service for specific apps and data types
- Simplicity of operation and management; all operations are performed in-house
- Ability ti directly set and administer security policies
- Greater data privacy; organization owns and operates the RAN in-house
- Enterprise builds and maintains equipment; adding capacity is under its own control
From an end-user perspective, private 5G networks operate in a way similar to Wi-Fi; devices connect automatically and provide access to the internet and other network services. However, similarities end when looking at the technologies in use, deployment requirements and suitable use cases for each.
Private 5G vs. Wi-Fi:
- Private 5G transmits at five to 10 times higher power than Wi-Fi, requiring fewer APs for the same coverage area
- Private 5G offers "soft" hand-offs between APs with no loss of connection; Wi-Fi breaks one connection before connecting the next
- Private 5G APs can handle more simultaneous active connections than Wi-Fi APs
- Private 5G network slicing capabilities enable:
- Greater speed and throughput
- Guaranteed quality of service granularity
- Control of QoS on a per-application basis
- Private 5G operates on CBRS, which is far less susceptible to external interference than Wi-Fi
- Private 5G latency and throughput specifications are comparable to Wi-Fi 6E in most situations
According to fcc.gov: "The Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) is a private, two-way, short-distance voice communications service for personal or business activities of the general public." In the past, businesses often avoided building their own cellular networks for private use because of the excessive costs associated with licensing and purchasing carrier-grade equipment. This changed in 2015 when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission introduced CBRS, which set aside the 150 MHz between 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz for sharing among three user tiers:
- Tier 1: Incumbent Access
- Users such as U.S. Navy and fixed satellite stations, which already had priority access to the 150 MHz band. These users have priority over Tier 2 and Tier 3.
- Tier 2: Priority Access
- Users that purchased spectrum licenses during CBRS auctions. Users can purchase a 10 MHz channel limited to a cap of four 10 MHz channel licenses in a single county.
- Tier 3: General Access
- Available to any user free of charge upon license approval. Usage of this tier is subject to interference from both Tier 1 and Tier 2 as both have higher priority than Tier 3.
According to fcc.gov: "The C-band is a 500 megahertz segment of spectrum from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz, which is now mostly used by fixed satellite companies to beam content to video and audio broadcasters, cable systems, and other content distributors. Feb. 6. 2020." In recent years, the C-band spectrum has been used to enable fast speeds on 5G cell phones and internet devices.
Private 5G networks function identically to public 5G. Endpoints such as Zebra mobile handhelds and tablets must be cellular-capable and support CBRS. The devices also must connect to the private wireless network using a physical SIM or embedded SIM (see eSIM). Zebra devices support physical and embedded SIMs, giving private 5G owners and operators tremendous control over which devices can connect to their network.
There are a variety of Zebra devices that support P5G.
Private 5G Standalone (SA) mode is a deployment model for private 5G networks that employs a 5G core network for end-to-end 5G connectivity. By comparison, a non-standalone (NSA) 5G network relies on existing 4G LTE networks and related hardware for some of its functionality. Only standalone mode allows for a fully isolated private 5G network; it also handles functions such as user authentication, security and mobility management, and includes the radio access network (RAN) components such as base stations and antennas that connect to end-user devices.
Benefits of SA Private 5G Network:
- Greater bandwidth than private 5G NSA networks
- Does not rely on 4G LTE networks for any functions
- 5G core network allows:
- Greater potential for customization and network optimization
- Simplified upgrades as technology evolves and new use cases emerge
- Prioritization of specific types of traffic or for deploying edge network functions
- Lower latency; suitable for industrial automation, autonomous vehicles and other real-time apps
- Faster sustained data transfer speeds; supports data-intensive applications such as virtual and augmented reality
- Isolation from other networks helps provide greater security, prevents unauthorized access and data breach
Zebra devices support both Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA) modes.
An eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is a type of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) that is built directly into a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or wearable computer. It replaces the physical SIM card traditionally used in devices, allowing cellular-service activation without a physical card.
When a device with an eSIM is purchased, the device manufacturer pre-installs an eSIM profile containing the necessary information to activate cellular service. The buyer contacts the carrier to request activation, and the carrier provides a QR code that when scanned using the device camera, downloads the carrier's eSIM profile onto the device and activates cellular service.
- No need to physically insert a SIM card into the device
- Occupies less space on the device than a SIM slot, allowing for smaller devices
- Faster carrier switching and service activation when traveling
- Allows multiple eSIM profiles to be stored on a single device, for easily switching between carriers, plans and countries
- Remote activation and management, improving security over physical SIM cards, and helping prevent fraud and identity theft
Devices with Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) support two SIM cards simultaneously, allowing two phone numbers to be active on a single device, either of which can be used for calls, texts and data.
When a service is performed (such as making a call or sending a text) on a device with DSDS, the device accesses the service according to the SIM preferences set by the user or administrator. The other SIM is placed in standby mode, and is able to receive calls or texts, but cannot be used to make outgoing calls or send texts until the current call or text is completed. DSDS functionality also can be implemented as "active," which allows both SIM cards to be used for calls, texts or data at the same time. In standby mode, only one SIM card can be active at a time.
- Allows two phone numbers on a single device, such as for work and personal use, or for traveling
- Can help reduce costs by designating particular services to the cheapest provider
- Provides greater flexibility for choosing carriers and plans
- Redundancy provides options for poor coverage areas
Android Connection Manager is a feature in Android devices that manages the connection between the device and various networks, such as Bluetooth, cellular data and Wi-Fi. ACM responsible for detecting available networks, selecting the best connection based on signal strength, security and other factors, and switching between networks when necessary. On Zebra devices, administrators also can set their own preferences for device connection to cellular and Wi-Fi networks and deploy prioritized lists of preferred networks.
When an Android device is powered on, the Connection Manager scans for available networks, evaluates their signal strength, speed and security, and chooses the best network based on saved preferences for the available options. When the device moves out of range of the current network, or if the signal strength becomes weak, the Connection Manager automatically switches to the next-best available network, which could be Wi-Fi or a public or private 5G network. Switching is totally transparent to the device user, and there's usually no interruption to the connection.
Benefits of Connection Management:
- Ensures device is always connected to the best available network
- Helps prevent dropped connections and service interruptions
- Improves speed and reliability by automatically switching to the strongest network signal
- Can be configured to automatically connect to a Private 5G network when available
- Helps reduce costs by restricting background data usage when connected to a public network
- Improves security by automatically connecting to preferred networks and blocking unsecured connections
Private 5G network equipment providers are companies that offer equipment and solutions for setting up private 5G networks. Such dedicated wireless communications networks are used by businesses, government agencies and other organizations exclusively for their own purposes, rather than being shared with the public. Network Equipment Providers offer a range of equipment and solutions for setting up private 5G networks, varying by the specific needs of the industry or organization.
Private 5G system integrators are integrators that specialize in designing, building and integrating private 5G networks for businesses, government agencies and other organizations. They work with private 5G network equipment providers to offer end-to-end solutions that include everything from network design to installation and maintenance. Some also offer customized solutions to meet specific needs.
Private 5G connectivity service providers work with private 5G network equipment providers and system integrators to offer end-to-end solutions such as network design, installation and maintenance. Some CSPs offer monitoring, management and other services intended to help ensure optimal performance of customer networks. Others might offer customized solutions to meet specific customer needs, or can help identify requirements and design a private network that meets those needs, such as a network that supports IoT devices or enables remote workers.
- About Zebra P5G | General overview and use cases of Zebra Private 5G
- Supported Zebra Devices | Zebra devices validated for use with Zebra Private 5G