The number of private LTE/5G networks, inclusive of trial and pilot deployments, has reached 2,900 by the end of 2023.
Of these, private 5G networks made strides from trial phases to commercial applications, contributing to an estimated 700 networks, with trials accounting for nearly half of the total, a report by Berg Insight, an IoT analyst firm, said.
The private LTE/5G networks will achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 percent until 2028. This surge will propel the count of private LTE/5G network deployments to reach 11,900 networks by the end of the forecast period.
Berg Insight defines these private cellular networks as 3GPP-based setups dedicated solely to the use of private entities, such as enterprises or government bodies. Operating on spectrum defined by the 3GPP, these networks utilize LTE or 5G NR base stations, small cells, and other radio access network (RAN) infrastructure to facilitate voice and data transmission to edge devices.
Berg Insight Principal Analyst Fredrik Stalbrand highlighted the substantial roles played by major RAN vendors like Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei, alongside smaller RAN equipment providers. Nokia is holding the lead with over 635 private cellular network customers as of Q2-2023.
The market is facing a shift towards channel-led sales strategies by major vendors, fostering ecosystems involving mobile operators, system integrators, VARs, and consulting partners for effective market delivery. Additionally, smaller entities like Airspan Networks, Baicells, CommScope, JMA Wireless, Mavenir, Samsung Networks, Sercomm, and ZTE contribute competitive LTE/5G radio products and comprehensive private network solutions.
The report also highlights specialized core network software vendors like Druid Software, Athonet (acquired by HPE in June 2023), Affirmed Networks, and Metaswitch (both part of Microsoft since mid-2020). These vendors, totaling close to 30, offer EPC/5GC offerings, showcasing the diversity within the sector.
Further, IT-centric players like Cisco and HPE focus on delivering integrated Wi-Fi and private LTE/5G solutions, providing network managers the ability to administer both networks via a unified interface. Celona, a new contender supported by NTT Data and Qualcomm, introduces an integrated private cellular solution available via a single SaaS subscription, marking its entry into this dynamic landscape.