US-based private network company Betacom forged a partnership with operator UScellular to create public/private hybrid 5G networks for enterprises to help them modernise their operations across disparate locations.

Michael Davies, VP of business partner strategy and 5G-as-a-service at Betacom, told Mobile World Live (MWL) enterprises want a single universal platform for their multi-wireless access challenges.

The service blends Betacom’s CBRS-based service with UScellular’s public cellular network to enable devices to use a single SIM to access both flavours of connectivity.

Davies explained when enterprises deploy a network at a specific geographic location they in essence create a communications island.

“However, there are devices that travel from island-to-island, and they don’t want to see an interruption in service support, or data transfer,” he said.

He noted business want real-time location services, which are hard to get in static environments at a single location. Devices such as RFID sensors or scanners move from location-to-location, such as a manufacturing plant to a retail location.

Touted industry first
“What we’ve come up with is without a doubt the first public/private network collaboration where a mobile network operator is working with a private cellular network operator to solve for that particular challenge that enterprise faces day-to-day,” Davies said.

David Allen, Director of Emerging Technology for UScellular, stated the mobile operator treats Betacom private cellular network “as a peer of ours,” and not as a customer.

Allen noted that as soon as the operator sees the private SIM and international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI ) in the public network, it authenticates the device against Betacom’s 4G or 5G network.

“We authenticate against that private network and it [an enterprise] gets the same classes of service out in the public network,” Allen explained.

UScellular’s network and access agreements give customers nationwide connectivity while the operator also provides data backhaul between sites.

Davis stated the hybrid service has been deployed across verticals such as logistics, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and airports.

He stated Betacom tried to form similar partnerships with other large mobile operators in the US, but Allen noted legacy cellular service providers view private networks as a threat to their existing business.

“They’re ingrained with this dollars per gigabyte model,” Allen said. “Private networks are going to happen so we’re going to embrace them. We’re here to help make it seamless between private and public networks.”