NTT taps startup Celona for its managed private 5G service

Enterprise cellular connectivity has been neglected for more than a decade, but has largely failed because WiFi remains the only viable wireless option. Older versions of cellular, such as 3G and 4G, did not have the necessary speed or ease of deployment to compete with WiFi, although the latter have reliability issues. Many analysts in the industry, myself included, see 5G as a game change because standards like CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) carry speeds that exceed WiFi with the reliability of a cellular network.

Some companies will choose to implement the technology themselves, but many will turn to a managed service due to lack of knowledge. 5G is radically different from 4G and any other version of wireless because it is the first technology standard in the age of cloud networking. It uses modern software-defined principles, strict policy enforcement and cloud microservices.

With the latest advances in this space, organizations have the opportunity to implement private 5G (P5G) networks that are specifically customized for their business and highly adaptable to change; however, the lack of best practices can create some risk and managed services to deploy risk.

NTT has launched a managed private 5G service using Celona

Telecommunication provider NTT launches the world’s first private platform P5G Network-as-a-Service, which can be deployed via the cloud, locally or on the edge. The platform is pre-integrated with a range of services from various network and software partners, which gives companies flexibility in its implementation.

The main 5G provider for this service is Celona Networks, a startup developed by the enterprise-class P5G that configures and manages, similar to WiFi. The technology uses a technique called MicroSlicing, which is based on the principle of 5G multi-lease, in which a physical infrastructure has multiple tenants or pieces. MicroSlicing automatically imposes and tracks key service levels, including latency, jitter, and packet error rates. This allows applications to work over a wireless network as they would over a wired network.

The P5G platform goes beyond connectivity to help organizations build highly flexible corporate networks, NTT’s Shahid Ahmed said in an interview with ZK Research. Ahmed recently joined NTT as executive vice president of New Ventures and Innovation to lead the company’s P5G service portfolio. The portfolio includes a rich ecosystem of network and terminal devices.

NTT will offer public / private 5G roaming

“Outside the gate, we will offer public-private roaming. This is a key use case for many of the transport and logistics companies, but also for the warehouses,” Ahmed said. “Whether they use a telephone or a RealWear (wearable industrial) device when performing a complex task or workflow in a warehouse, we will work with our third-party partners to enable digital transformation for this front-line worker.”

NTT adopts a platform-based subscription approach instead of a pay-per-use approach. Organizations will have cost security by choosing different levels of services based on network design and needs, similar to Amazon Web Services.

The intention is to provide the organization with a complete solution that offers full visibility and administration of P5G networks, said Parm Sandhu, vice president of Enterprise 5G products and services at NTT. Using the platform, CIOs and IT administrators can control elements such as policy management, security management and configuration management – all from a single self-service portal.

Protection inherent in the NTT solution

Security is another major factor why some compliance-driven industries may prefer an end-to-end solution. Healthcare, for example, has strict rules about how data moves across the web. To meet the needs of these organizations, the NTT P5G platform uses zero-trusted network access (ZTNA) principles to provide access to applications and services both on-site and in the cloud. With ZTNA, access to network resources is strictly controlled and various restrictions can be applied up to the application level.

“Security needs to be built into network design,” Sandhu said. “There’s no way for a telecommunications company to integrate any kind of authentication into the terrestrial network that the company uses. So, there are some really exciting future things we’re going to do by implementing 5G in the company.”

It’s important to understand that the P5G shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for WiFi — at least not yet because of the number of WiFi-connected dwarfs with 5G-compatible devices. Businesses should strive to expand their WiFi deployment with the P5G and use it when network reliability is a must. Manufacturing, healthcare, facilities and factories are great examples. Also, many of the IoT devices that will be used to ensure the workplace is safe must use P5G, but the typical case of using workers’ knowledge is good using WiFi. NTT’s managed service can help organizations plan where to best use both technologies.

The promise of cellular technology as an enterprise was on the horizon, but the noise was never true. The latest version of the cellular network, 5G, has been completely redesigned to address a world where everything is connected, making it something every business should keep in mind.