In a first for the resources industry, Rio Tinto created a private cellular network at a faraway mine in Australia to fix a connectivity problem* with its autonomous ore trucks – they kept stopping. More than a decade later, the industry is using the networks to digitise mining processes with rock-solid infrastructure for critical push-to-talk communications between control rooms and their operatives and assets. Last year, Nokia said mining companies are using its networks to achieve safety, sustainability, productivity and efficiency targets at 65 mines across the world.
The $2.2 trillion global industry was an early adopter of the approach. More than 1,000 private cellular networks for enterprises have since emerged worldwide, according to ABI Research. The technology intelligence firm said the growth of private networks is especially strong in markets with national dedicated spectrum arrangements for licensed or shared spectrum. It forecasts the revenue opportunity to grow from $7 billion this year to $96 billion by 2030.
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) said growth was being driven by “spiralling data, security, digitisation and enterprise mobility requirements of modern business and government entities” with organisations combining connected systems with big data and analytics to transform operations, increase automation and efficiency or deliver new services. The US, Germany, China, UK and Japan had the most deployments as of the first quarter of 2023 while manufacturing, education and mining remained the top three sectors for adoption.
Airports are also investing in new communications infrastructure. In 2020, Groupe ADP and Air France chose Ericsson to roll out a private 4G/5G network covering Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget airports to serve 120,000 workers and 1,000 companies of different shapes and sizes. The group said the network help to optimise the fluidity and security of critical operations and improve customer experience and represented a new major step in the digital transformation of the Paris airports. Leeds Bradford Airport this year made the switch< to push-to-talk over cellular for its critical communications.
Private cellular networks allow organisations to move beyond the limitations of legacy radio systems to take advantage of the data-enhanced capabilities available through improved connectivity. Mobile Tornado customers in the public and private sector use our push-to-talk over cellular solutions (also known as PTToC or PoC) to increase safety, reduce costs, boost productivity and improve efficiency. Global cellular coverage has increased substantially in recent years. But the growth of private cellular networks extends the reach of critical communications technologies to new levels – above and below ground.