Media Information

Detecon Market Survey on Campus Networks: 5G a Building Block of the Bigitization Strategy for Industrial Companies

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Autonomes Fahren auf dem Werksgelände, Augmented / Virtual Reality und flexible Fertigung sind wichtigste Einsatzgebiete

Detecon bietet Orientierung durch Healthcheck für 5G-Campusnetz-Transformation

Cologne, Germany, September 18, 2019 - 5G is seen by industrial companies as an important building block for digitization and a key factor in the realization of Industry 4.0. Higher flexibility, efficiency and, above all, the very high reliability of networking are cited as key motives for using 5G in their own business and production processes. These are the results of the qualitative survey "5G Campus Networks in Industry" for which the management consultancy Detecon and the University of Regensburg interviewed fifteen company representatives and industry experts from sectors such as automotive, mechanical engineering, and network technology from March to May 2019.

Companies will be given the opportunity to build their own 5G networks. To this end, the Federal Network Agency plans to make local 5G frequencies in the 3,700 MHz - 3,800 MHz range available before the end of the second half of 2019 to companies that want to set up networks for local applications on their own premises (campuses). For the first time, cellular mobile communications will thus not only be offered by nationwide mobile communications companies in public networks, but can also be used autonomously and tailored by industries in private networks.

Productivity boosts and cost efficiency as main motives

According to the experts surveyed, users expect to benefit from a 5G enterprise network primarily in terms of close networking between machines to ensure ultra-fast and secure data exchange in the production area and factory floors. This will result in significant productivity gains - for example, through rapid adjustment of production - and greater cost efficiency, as the higher degree of automation will lead to a reduction in operating costs, among other things. For example, the subsequent delivery of components from the warehouse to the production line could in future be carried out using so-called "Automated Guided Vehicles" (AGV).

In addition to the new performance features, such as the ten times higher speed compared to LTE and the latency of less than ten milliseconds enabling real-time applications, the extremely high reliability of the networking is the decisive argument for the use of 5G for future industrial users. "If highly sensitive networks did not run highly reliably, the advantages of other features such as low latency would not even be realized," explains Jörg Borowski, Managing Partner and 5G expert at Detecon. Previously used networking technologies, on the other hand, always had limitations, such as the lack of mobility with wired connections via LAN or the limited number of devices that can be integrated, as well as the susceptibility to interference with WiFi. "5G, on the other hand, is designed to operate networks robustly and reliably, overcoming the known limitations of legacy technologies," Borowski said.

In terms of future, specific applications, the manufacturing industry consistently discusses applications that focus on an individual solution specifically integrated into companies, according to the survey. Most frequently mentioned were:

  • Autonomous driving: Remote-controlled driving, on plant premises or in public transport incl. real-time response times and guaranteed network resources.
  • Augmented reality / virtual reality (AR/VR): for example, for cloud-based real-time support of repairs to machines from a distance (remote maintenance), or virtual training offers for employees on the production floor
  • Autonomous robots for flexible, wireless island manufacturing on the shop floor

"No company will want to implement 5G for just one use case. In any case, cost-effectiveness requires a higher number of deployment scenarios," judged one of the experts interviewed in the survey. "The business case turns green when a bundle of innovative use cases occurs in combination with the ability to replace existing legacy technologies for networking in perspective," emphasizes Jörg Borowski from Detecon. By consolidating various network technologies such as LoRa, Wifi, Tetra, and 4G on a 5G network, it will be possible to leverage extensive synergies.

Ways to realize 5G

The first prototypes for setting up and operating 5G networks are already being implemented. Most of the use cases that can be switched to the spectrum intended for 5G in the short term are currently still covered by WiFi & LAN or use existing 4G frequencies.

With regard to the introduction of 5G technology, the industrial companies surveyed show a very different degree of preparation: Some plan to deploy 5G without having deployed intermediate technologies such as LTE beforehand, others plan to use bridging technologies beforehand but do not yet know which ones. A detailed roadmap for the deployment of 5G is not yet in place at most of the companies surveyed.

Ecosystems and partnerships as success factors

With its own frequencies, 5G allows companies to implement networks themselves. This raises the question of whether they want to build and operate the campus network themselves or whether a partner, such as an experienced mobile communications company, should perform these tasks.

In this make-or-buy decision, there will be all kinds of combinations, according to the respondents. SMEs tend to need support from various players and will therefore increasingly form strategic alliances - especially at an early stage. Large companies are more likely to be trusted to build and operate their own campus networks. In the interviews, however, the majority of industry representatives stated that they would prefer to focus on their core competencies and therefore seek strong partnerships. Reasons include the assumed unclear costs and risks, as well as the recognized competence advantage of the mobile network companies.

"Some study participants explicitly stated that they would welcome mobile companies proactively offering managed services. There is a shift in thinking here among some industry players: Some companies are now moving away from the idea of building campus networks on their own; instead, they are looking more strongly for partnerships and ecosystem solutions," emphasizes Jörg Borowski from Detecon. However, the offer of the mobile network operators must then also respond flexibly to the requirements of the companies and the implementation times should be short.

5G health check for campus networks provides orientation

Detecon is now offering a so-called 5G health check so that companies can achieve optimum benefits with the use of 5G. Against the background of the uncertainties and diverse options in the still young market, Detecon wants to provide users with orientation and recommendations for action with a structured analysis.

All activities follow a holistic perspective: Detecon not only helps to identify sensible use cases and clearly shows the benefits, but also offers concrete instructions for possible technical implementation on the basis of a detailed analysis of existing infrastructure. This is followed by an evaluation of possible operator models. A business case as a basis for implementation decisions rounds off the analysis. The result is a target picture and a roadmap into the 5G world. In this way, competitive advantages can be realized on the way to digitization and wrong decisions can be avoided.

"In an iterative workshop approach, we help the customer identify, bundle and prioritize the most relevant use cases in the campus area," explains Jörg Borowski. "Companies thus benefit from a sound transformation strategy, reliable connectivity, and clear added value as a player in the 5G ecosystem."

The English-language survey results "5G Campus Networks - An Industry Survey" are available for download here.

Further information on 5G and Detecon

Best Practice Article: "Smart Factory will only work properly with 5G"

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