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As digital transformation continues to proliferate across the enterprise, the need to access the internet with speed has also grown. This demand comes on the back of adjustments from organizations to a more data-driven, hands-off approach to decision-making. With more data comes the need for faster internet to enable the assimilation and productivity of data loads. Following a partnership between NTT and ServiceNow to accelerate the adoption of 5G, NTT says it’s rolling out next-generation internet connectivity with private 5G (P5G).

A report by Gartner predicts 5G will follow a similar rate of adoption to the 4G and LTE technologies and the adoption rate of customizable 5G services in tier-1 cities will reach 60% by 2024. The report further showed that increased adoption will be driven partially because of industrial demand, leading to pressure on communications service providers to upscale their services.

For Shahid Ahmed, group executive vice president of New Ventures and Innovation at NTT, edge compute is a key architectural component of P5G adoption, as it enables and supports low-latency and high-bandwidth applications and use-cases. He said enterprises will increasingly build edge-to-cloud strategies with IoT, edge and P5G all working in concert to meet the need for faster internet access.

Meeting the need for faster internet access

NTT is launching this technology through its subsidiary, Transatel, with claims that it will be available for both private and public usage — allowing use beyond the conventional confines that were previously available to 4G network services. The P5G network is a network-as-a-service that goes beyond the conventional 5G infrastructure. According to Ahmed, the P5G infrastructure is designed with an enterprise-first mindset and a behind-the-firewall solution that offers global private-public roaming, which he claims is an industry-first. 

With devices needing to transmit massive amounts of data in real time, the importance of a personal network-as-a-service cannot be overemphasized, said Ahmed. 

“It is a revolution, with significantly superior speed, performance and security upgrades when compared to Wi-Fi,” said Jacques Bonifay, cofounder and CEO of Transatel, regarding the upgrades that 5G brings with it.   

On the heels of this announcement, Transatel is diving deeper into the industrial IoT space (IIoT) in the United States. The company is offering users eSIM cellular connectivity for international travelers and enabling enterprise use cases in edge computing and AI-based applications like video content analysis (VCA), push-to-talk and autonomous robots and vehicles. 

The Transatel technology 

Transatel’s telecom infrastructure is a mobile virtual network operator providing 3G, 4G, LTE-M and now 5G networks to its global users through agreements with hundreds of mobile carriers, helping to connect more than 3 million devices around the world. The flexibility and the independence that Transatel enjoys apart from traditional operators allow it to meet the ideals of its customer base, Ahmed said.     

Transatel’s technology range includes a roaming sim that allows international data plans for different countries in the world. It also has several agreements that allow users to connect with a service provider of their choice to access the internet. Ahmed said P5G will be different because it’ll allow the following:

  • Transporting growing volumes of data, where you need enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) to cope with the limited time available to transport an ever-growing amount of data. eMBB can help enterprises download gigabytes of data in seconds.
  • Mission-critical applications, where industries will be able to address the challenges of autonomous (or self-driving) vehicles with ultra-reliable and low latency networks (URLLC). URLLC will help enable applications where even a millisecond of delay can cost money or even compromise the safety of pedestrians or cyclists.
  • Managing devices and sensors, where operators will need to be able to handle the increase in the density of sensors and devices to run a smart factory. Managing devices and sensors can handle billions of sensors and allow them to communicate more efficiently and freely.
  • Prioritizing network traffic, where network slicing provides dedicated logical/virtual networks for specific functional requirements.

Deploying P5G in the field 

To show the capabilities and capacity of the NTT’s P5G network, the company has also announced a partnership with Albemarle Corporation, a chemical company with dealings in lithium, bromine and refining catalysts. The partnership will see NTT install a pilot private LTE/5G network at Albemarle’s lithium mine in King’s Mountain, North Carolina. 

The installed network will afford Albemarle’s engineering bases located across three continents the ability to communicate and remotely assist each other. The network will help “to enable collaboration and digital applications at our mining and processing sites, we require widespread, high-speed connectivity,” according to Chuck Holley, Global Manager of IT Network Infrastructure, Albemarle. Holley also said the assured security of the network was another reason why it was selected by the mining company.

“With any new technology, partnerships are critical — especially in a nascent marketplace like P5G; but beyond that, we’re interested in co-innovation. It’s also important that all participants, whether competitors or not, are cooperating and helping customers with the adoption of P5G. We’re all in it together; cooperation is key,” said Ahmed on the partnership. This partnership announcement comes on the back of collaborations of Schneider Electric, Celona and ServiceNow.   

With the collaborations and partnerships that NTT has been able to rack up, the company has shown the usefulness of P5G for companies that are on the lookout for end-to-end integrations. Ahmed reiterated buyers for P5G will likely be someone from the factory floor, responsible for building, managing and supporting OT infrastructure. And for these kinds of buyers, it’s all about security and reliability. They want to know that their network is secure, that it will work the way they need it to and that they’ll have total control along the way. 

While Ahmed maintained the solutions NTT offers is a market-first, Craft has a list of alternatives that can be explored. Transatel claims management of more than 3 million eSIM and SIM and boasts clients that include Airbus, Stellantis, Worldline and Jaguar Land Rover.

Transatel became a subsidiary of NTT in 2019 and has been rapidly expanding its 5G footprint across the globe. This rollout announcement in the United States comes a few weeks after France, Belgium and Japan were onboarded.

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