NTT Docomo head of Global 5G Business Zaif Siddiqi (pictured) told a GSMA 5G forum MNOs can find the right balance to deliver customer value when competing for private network business.

In a presentation during the APAC 5G Forum webinar, Siddiqi noted whether to employ a public or private network is a big question for enterprises and explained success in the 5G era will rely on a good mix of collaborating with other players to understand customer needs, the costs involved and upfront R&D.

“We expect extremely healthy competition.”

“In the end, it comes down to what the customer wants: private, public or hybrid.”

He noted the key features of private networks are independence, flexibility and stability, but questioned how enterprises will manage them.

“After asking somebody to build your own private network, you have to look after it and maintain it. Are you going to have a team to support that structure, and what are the costs involved? What type of security requirements”?

He argued MNOs have the necessary expertise, which is why Docomo launched a 5G construction support service in 2020 to resolve enterprises’ private network challenges.

Docomo expects strong demand from enterprise and consumer segments. Key B2B areas are manufacturing, construction, hospitals and smart mobility, led by automakers in Japan and Europe.

Siddiqi identified gaming and entertainment as key drivers in retail.

Mobile operators in Japan were not allocated private 5G spectrum, requiring Docomo to work with partners.

It also is targeting overseas markets including Thailand, where it supports a growing number of Japanese companies.