Public vs. Private Networks: Key Differences and How They Fit Into 5G

by Christopher Trick, on Nov 1, 2022 8:38:41 AM

Public vs. Private Networks: Key Differences and How They Fit Into 5G

Within the world of 5G, massive amounts of data need to be shared with private entities as well as with the general population within a matter of seconds. 

In this blog, you'll learn more about the differences between public and private networks, and how they play a critical role in enhancing 5G technology.

What is a public network?

A public network is a type of wired or wireless network that anyone--i.e., the general public--has access to, enabling connection to other networks and/or the Internet. 

Public networks have few or no restrictions, increasing vulnerability to cyberattacks, so users must be very careful when accessing it. 

What is a private network?

A private network is any connection within a specified wired or wireless network wherein restrictions are established to promote a secured environment. 

Private networks only allow access to a select set of devices. This is dependent upon the settings encoded in the network routers and access points. 

How do public and private networks fit into 5G?

Public and private networks are an important part of 5G. 

At a high level, both public and private networks are wireless networks that offer high throughput and low latency while using the same underlying solutions, including hardware and software, the same coding schemes, and the same spectrum. 

Let's take a look at the role of each in a little more detail: 

Public 5G network

A public 5G network offers the same level of service and security to all who use it. 

To use a public 5G network, you must be in an area with a 5G network, and you must have a device that is capable of communicating with a 5G network. 

Service and management of a public 5G network is usually handled by the mobile network operator (MNO). 

There are, however, some drawbacks to using public 5G networks. 

As mentioned earlier, public access means higher security risks; in addition, performance can be dramatically hampered if the network is busy, since many people are trying to use it at the same time. 
 

Private 5G network

A private 5G network is operated privately by a group, company, or government agency.

As 5G technology evolves, virtualization and interconnectivity of devices increases. As a result, private 5G networks are becoming increasingly popular.

Since these networks are not available to everyone, they increase security and avoid complications from too many people using the network. This helps to give those using the network more control.

Public and Private NetworksAt a high level, both public and private networks are wireless networks that use the same underlying solutions, including hardware and software, the same coding schemes, and the same spectrum. 

What are the types of private 5G networks?

Private 5G networks can be divided into two types: independent and dependent networks. Let's take a look at each:

Independent network

In an independent network, the organization is responsible for selecting which spectrum to use (licensed, unlicensed, or shared), including procuring and leasing the spectrum, installing network solutions (radio access network (RAN) and core network), managing the users, and maintaining the network. 

The organization can choose whether to own and operate private 5G networks with an in-house IT team or collaborate with system integrators and managed service providers to deploy and manage their private 5G network. 

Either way, the organization will have an extra layer of safety, as all data stays onsite and within the network. Additionally, it can control network settings. 

The organization can also decide whether to allow connection to a public network for roaming purposes or allow external users to access the private network.

Dependent network

A dependent network is built and maintained by any mobile network operator (MNO). The MNO can either dedicate the spectrum to the enterprise or use network slicing technology to create multiple virtual networks from a single physical network. 

The MNO installs the network, maintains it, and manages user access based on a mutually agreed business model. 

How can 5G networks be deployed?

5G networks can be deployed in one of three ways: isolated private networks, shared private networks, and private network slices under a public network. 

Each categorization is simply based on the level of integration with the mobile operator's public network. Let's take a look at each in more detail:

Isolated private network
In an isolated private network architecture, the entire network is hosted and operated by the user to ensure full control of the network. 
 
The network is completely isolated from the public network, which helps to reduce the risk of data breaches. 
 
The downsides of using these networks, however, are that they require a lot of investment in building and operating its infrastructure, and they require personnel with a high level of knowledge about telecom networks.
 
But isolated private networks are still suitable for public safety agencies or large enterprises with an abundance of resources and high concern for data privacy. 
 
Shared private network
In a shared private 5G network architecture, the network shares the infrastructure of a mobile network operator's public network to lower the cost of setup for the private 5G network. 
 
Users can choose how many components will be managed by them instead of the mobile network operator based on business requirements.
 
Shared private networks allow for a private 5G architecture where users can get low-latency communications with room for future modifications; they also allow for local RAN maintenance for a fast, stable connection and to ensure that the network coverage and quality is under control while leaving the rest of the system management to the network operator. 
 
Network slicing private network
Network slicing private networks help to ensure data isolation and network quality with an end-to-end private 5G connection provided by a mobile operator's existing infrastructure, but it lacks control for the network. 
 
Network slicing private networks are suitable for scenarios that require deployment on a wide area like IoT connections or autonomous vehicles. 
 
Organizations can lease a private bandwidth from the operator and choose different service level agreements (SLAs) to fit their business needs.
 

What are the benefits of private 5G networks?

As the amount of available data increases, so does reliance on digital services like private 5G networks to deliver robust, flexible, and secure communication. 

Private 5G networks depend heavily on open, programmable, and intelligent virtual radio access networks (vRANs) for increased scalability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. 

When properly designed, deployed, and managed, private 5G networks can offer a variety of benefits anywhere, anytime. 

Let's take a look at these benefits in more detail: 

Security

Security is ingrained into private 5G networks, and it is a critical component during their development. Data and user identities that are transported over the network are encrypted. The vRANs enable quick adjustments and eliminates specific hardware that can be compromised.

Additionally, since applications and intelligence reside at the edge, close to the user, this enables network operators to quickly and precisely detect threats. 

Reliability, scalability, and flexibility

As the number of connected devices and applications continue to grow, so does the amount data transferred across these networks. This is in addition to the trillions of transactions from connected devices, users, and applications. 

Private 5G networks ensure smooth, effective operation through continual optimization of virtual network elements that ensure customer demands are being met as they grow in size, number, and complexity. 

In addition to improving performance and capacity, private 5G networks are individually monitored and managed. Operators can offer sophisticated service level agreements that ensure business customers have reliable access whenever and wherever they need it. 

Configurability

Network operators as well as users require that private 5G networks are continually optimized and readily configurable to make upgrades easier as workloads evolve. 

Network slicing and virtual network resources allow for vRANs to be individually managed and configured. But the design of the network and integration with existing network and operations resources must be completed in a manner that ensures the network can be continually optimized. 

Additionally, virtualization means that updates only need to be made to software, not hardware, helping to reduce costs and minimize downtime. 

What are the benefits of private 5G networks?

How does Trenton come into play?

At Trenton, our high-performance computing solutions harness the power of 5G to provide fast, scalable, and easily configurable network architectures--whether hardware-based, virtual, public, or private.

Our IES.5G, for example, can support public and private 5G networks, consolidating networking, processing, intelligence, and security on the same server to decrease latency, response times, and total cost of ownership as virtualization and interconnectivity of devices increases. 

We design our systems with the capability to continuously adapt to and support ever-changing applications across the government, military, and critical infrastructure sectors. 

In partnership with Intel® and Radysis®, we equip our O-RAN architected solutions with 3GPP-compliant software, SmartEdge, and FlexRAN to ensure rapid deployment of enhanced 5G connectivity in real-time. 

Final thoughts

Both public and private networks provide users with a means of communication that can quickly crunch and transfer large amounts of data at the edge within the harshest of environments. 

Though public networks can play a role within the 5G ecosystem, private 5G networks are becoming increasingly favored due to their enhanced security, scalability, virtualization, and configurability. 

Within a military environment, private 5G networks help securely deliver immediate, actionable insights to increase situational awareness and shorten response times to effectively detect, track, and engage with enemy threats. 

Along with Intel® and Radysis®, Trenton Systems provides the hardware and compute capabilities to connect military comms systems across all domains with 5G technology, providing the modern warfighter with a strategic, tactical, and operational advantage. 

Want to learn more about how we can help you craft a 5G-powered, TAA-compliant solution for virtualized, low-latency networking? Reach out to us anytime here

We're always here to help. 😎

Interested in learning more about 5G? Check out some other key 5G technologies that enhance compute architectures here.

Topics:5G Technologydata transferpublic networksprivate networks

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