Private 5G networks are having a public moment.

Private wireless networks offer untapped potential for enterprises looking to accelerate digital transformation by providing speed, innovation, enhanced security, and business cost savings across industries.

While the promise of such connectivity could benefit many businesses, it also requires them to deploy these technologies in a customizable way, which is often complex and costly.

“Enterprises not only need access to the right technology but also deep expertise in how to integrate it — from various networks to cloud connectivity and operational technology,” said Paul Savill, Global Practice Leader of Network & Edge at Kyndryl. “A customized integration partner with global scale is essential to making private 5G networks succeed.”

Ahead of the network and mobile industry’s largest show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), held Feb. 27 – March 2, 2023 in Barcelona, Savill talks about the state of the industry, the exponential growth of private 5G, and the importance of embracing partnerships and an open ecosystem.

How fast is the 5G market growing?
Private 5G networks are poised to take off. According to ABI Research, the private wireless market is expected to grow to $96.5 billion by 2030. It is the first generation of networks where the benefits and technology transformations are happening at the enterprise level before the consumer level.

Similarly, Kyndryl is seeing this growth in our Network & Edge practice. From our partnership with Nokia, our two companies have more than 100 active engagements with global enterprises, from advisory or testing to piloting or full implementation, across 24 countries. We’re just entering our second year of the partnership, and we are seeing an accelerated interest from multinational conglomerates in industries like energy, healthcare and financial services.

What are the top challenges of private 5G?
Spectrum availability was an early challenge but today it is rapidly becoming less of a barrier, with governments allocating licensed spectrum for enterprise use and the emergence of unlicensed wireless networking options. The real challenge today is ensuring that enterprises have the flexibility to customize their deployments to meet business goals.

Private 5G networks also need to be integrated with a host of other networks and technologies — the local area network, wide area network and the public cloud — so the data can be transferred and analyzed in the best location for each use case. Enterprises should find a trusted and informed partner to help secure the right spectrum and integrate all the technologies. Otherwise, enterprises may miss out on driving the full potential of their innovation and maximizing the value from their private 5G investments.

How are Kyndryl and Nokia jointly helping customers meet some of those challenges?
The biggest benefit for customers is access to expert resources and skilled practitioners to help them integrate private 5G networks so that they can customize their deployments and gain much needed flexibility based on their business needs.

Another big advantage is speed: Kyndryl and Nokia are helping customers across industries harness the power of private 5G wireless and edge computing to quickly realize the benefits of Industry 4.0. As a part of our expanded partnership, we can now rapid-prototype private 5G technology to enterprises in one to two days. We can show what this technology can unlock for enterprises in record time — this is a huge advantage as a lot of the conversations we have with companies is around what this technology will enable. There’s still a big knowledge gap on what private 5G connectivity is and the benefits the technology brings.

Kyndryl is also launching a partner innovation lab with Nokia and Palo Alto Networks. Tell us more.
The innovation lab is designed to bring advanced and secure wireless connectivity to industrial enterprises. It was designed in collaboration with Nokia for private cellular wireless networking and Palo Alto for firewall and zero-trust security services. The lab will be in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, for easy access to Kyndryl’s software development team.

The lab also embraces an open mobile and networks ecosystem approach, which allows Kyndryl and Nokia to work with other technology enterprises to provide agile, reliable and secure connectivity solutions for customers.

There’s lots of talk about AI. What should companies be thinking about when integrating AI into their 5G networks?
Integrating AI with private 5G networks can yield powerful results for enterprises that use these networks to collect large amounts of complex data that needs to be quickly analyzed and acted upon. In addition to the real-time analytics and data insights, the AI can also be used to optimize performance and reliability of the network itself, along with other critical infrastructure supporting the enterprise operations.

What are some other important trends in 5G?
Overall, the time is ripe for Industry 4.0 with the convergence of informational technology with operational technology. What we have is a confluence of data, analytics, and cloud that needs to be connected to machines.

Private 5G network is paving the way for Industry 4.0 automation and enterprise transformation, and this is a massive opportunity for enterprises — business efficiencies, cost savings, safer factory floors and IoT use cases, just to name a few. There is growing availability of solutions tailored to industrial needs that do not require a one-size-fits-all deployment and operations.

The connectivity piece is only the beginning — once the data is captured on the network, other components can be layered on: AI, machine learning and IT tools, for example, can take that data from the network and help companies make real-time decisions.

Attending Mobile World Congress?  At MWC 2023, Kyndryl will showcase how it’s uniquely positioned to help lead this modernization effort by leveraging tailor-made solutions to manage the complex, mission-critical information systems that the world depends on every day.

Join Kyndryl and Nokia experts at the Nokia booth (#3A20 / 2A2) for an interactive private 5G simulation that illustrates how utilizing Nokia state-of-the-art private wireless solutions, and Kyndryl’s consulting, design, implementation and managed services enables real-time worker communications, data and analytics, enhancing employee productivity and increasing security.

You can also join Kyndryl in the following featured speaker sessions to learn more about how network & edge computing are driving Industry 4.0 transformation:

Executive Panel Discussion: Accelerating your digital transformation through edge-ready strategies on data and networks

  • When: February 27, 9:00-11:00 a.m. CET 
  • Location: South Access, Medusa -1, Press Area, Event Enquiries Office 
  • Kyndryl Speaker: Jason Jackson, Distinguished Engineer and CTO, Kyndryl ​ 

GTM Partner at Nokia CEO Keynote Session: Is it Time for Co-Creation?

  • When: February 28, 12:00-13:00 p.m. CET 
  • Location: Keynote Stage, Hall 4 
  • Kyndryl Speaker: Gretchen Tinnerman, VP, Network & Edge US Kyndryl

Sponsored OpenNet Theme Session: Adapting to Network Demands on the Edge

  • When: March 1, 14:45-15:45 p.m. CET 
  • Location: MWC Stage A 
  • Kyndryl Speaker: Gretchen Tinnerman, VP, Network & Edge US Kyndryl 

Panel Discussion Session: A Quantum Leap into the Future  

  • When: March 1, 16:15-17:00 p.m. CET 
  • Location: MWC Stage B, Hall 6 
  • Kyndryl Speaker: Patricia Garrido, Quantum, Data & AI SME domain leader, Kyndryl​ 

WSJ Journal House ‘Is 5G for Everyone?’

  • When: March 2, 12:00-13:00 p.m. CET 
  • Location: WSJ Journal House, Fira Gran Via, Networking Garden 5
  • Kyndryl Speaker: Gretchen Tinnerman, VP, Network & Edge US Kyndryl