Dan Falkner, associate VP for wireless business products at Verizon, noted the market for enterprise private wireless has matured over the years due to a demand for tailored solutions, as he provided details on the operator’s major deals with Audi and the US Department of Defense (DoD).

Speaking on Mobile World Live’s latest podcast, Falkner explained private networks has had a place in the B2B industry over the past four years but has only seen its tipping point fairly recently, adding an initial “market education” to clients helped to reveal the benefits of the technology.

Opportunities for private wireless across industry verticals became apparent at end-2023, following hefty R&D and testing initiatives in the years before, said Falkner.

“There was a lot of heavy education with customers, explaining what private wireless is, why they might be interested in it and how it can help their business.”

A diversity of needs and new use cases across industries helped ripened the economy around private networks, with tools like Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and connected devices seeing wider deployments, in turn “propelling things forward”.

Today, Falkner said, customers “see value in the investment”, with some opting to start with private 4G as deployments depend on “how aggressive their use case is”.

“We have a path to grow you to 5G once those networks are in, so you can recycle that investment,” he said.

Falkner described Audi’s private 5G deal with Verizon as “the upper echelon” in terms of use cases. The tie-up involves Verizon deploying a tailored, multi-core 5G network on the automaker’s vehicle test track in Germany. This requires the operator to apply the technology based on different network conditions from across the globe.

“Now that cars are getting smarter with infotainment hubs and all these things, we want to be able to do that right off the factory line in Germany. So building this network, which was multi-core, multi-operator, and being able to replicate different networks across the globe at their test track in Germany, was a huge feat to accomplish.”

The operator has also struck multi-year contracts with the US National Hockey League (NHL) and the DoD. For the latter, Verizon is tasked with modernising the base infrastructure for the defence agency, something that involves “a multitude of use cases”.

While recent research showed private networks only accounted for 2 per cent of the overall RAN market in 2023, the executive believes given “the pace at which [the technology] is growing and the investments being made, it is a critical piece of the business that we are counting on going forward”.