Imagine standing in a shop and filling up your shopping basket at your own pace. Once you’re sure you’ve found everything you need, you pack up the products and leave the store – without needing to pay at a physical checkout. The items you’ve purchased will instead be billed to your customer account automatically later on. In the last few weeks, Sunrise Business tested this very scenario successfully in the shop at its headquarters at Ambassador House in Opfikon.
As can be gleaned from the video, Sunrise Business implemented this pilot project by installing four 5G-enabled cameras that were connected to the shop’s software with machine-learning capabilities. The AI-based software processes the images captured by the cameras in real time using an edge-computing infrastructure, i.e., a server installed on site, and is able to identify every product clearly and add them to the basket. This real-time data processing is possible thanks to a Mobile Private Network (MPN), a new connectivity solution based on the new 5G standalone (SA) mobile-communications standard.
Real-time communication with maximum data security
Using MPNs, also known as private 5G or campus networks, allows companies to connect their employees, machines and applications within a network. Mobile Private Networks are located at company premises and are separate from the public network. This ensures that the data processed over this network is secure at all times.
An MPN offers companies fibre-optic speeds without restricting the mobility of machines in any way. Since MPNs are based on the new 5G mobile standard, the machines don’t need to be hard-wired to be connected to the network, as is often the case with Ethernet. The high data-throughput rates and low latency then ensure uninterrupted real-time communication. In comparison to Wi-Fi solutions, MPNs can also handle massive IoT capacities of up to one million connected devices per square kilometre. In addition, business customers of providers like Sunrise Business benefit from dedicated service management and guaranteed service level agreements.
The right private 5G to suit any scenario
But not all MPNs are the same. There are three different solutions: dedicated MPN, hybrid MPN and slicing. Dedicated MPN solutions are self-contained networks that are completely decoupled from the public network. They provide the highest-possible security standards because critical operational data never leaves the company’s own infrastructure. As well as having indoor and/or outdoor 5G antennas, this requires a local server infrastructure that allows sensitive data to be processed on the end device directly on site or, as the professionals like to say, on the edge. Dedicated MPN takes secure edge computing, which ensures critical data doesn’t end up in the public cloud, to a new level, helping companies minimise their cyber risks.
With hybrid MPN solutions, business-critical data and applications are processed or operated on a self-contained network. Meanwhile, applications that are less critical and need to work across different locations are provided via the public network.
And finally, 5G slicing is all about enabling companies to reserve private areas of the network, meaning specific bandwidths on the public mobile network. This allows careful handling of critical processes where having the lowest latency and guaranteed network capacities is imperative. It’s akin to a motorway on which the company has its own lane all to itself. As our shop example illustrates, it’s possible to process live data using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms in real time with edge computing to trigger appropriate actions.
Requirements for AI, IoT, edge computing are becoming tangible
The possibilities that MPNs give companies to digitise their applications and processes as well as develop new innovative solutions are vast. This is because technologies like machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) or edge computing have one thing in common – they require a stable network with low latency and high data throughput. It’s only when these requirements are met that applications such as digital twins, collaborative robots, autonomous vehicles, process automation, predictive maintenance or virtual training to improve remote maintenance or employee safety become truly scalable.
Although MPNs offer huge potential for all industries, many companies still find it difficult to understand the benefit. That’s why scenarios and use cases that highlight the benefits of the solutions need to be presented. To do this, Sunrise Business uses «MPN on Wheels», a mobile test environment with all the required features. It gives potential customers the opportunity to test a Mobile Private Network that is set up temporarily to run selected applications in different areas of their own site, without having to contend with long project lead times or financial risks.
How does «MPN on Wheels» work?
«MPN on Wheels» is a mobile, pre-configured, modular 5G private network. It provides potential enterprise customers with a mobile test environment that includes all the features to test the new connectivity solution. Prior to this, workshops take place with the customers to evaluate their requirements, check that the prerequisites are in place and train the relevant employees. «MPN on Wheels» is then activated for two days and the results obtained are evaluated and discussed. This demonstrates the way the MPN works as well as all its advantages. This approach provides a simple basis for potential customers to make a decision without having to invest large sums of money at this stage. It’s also another important step on the pathway to the smart factory, because connectivity and security, the main arguments in favour of MPNs, make up the foundation for more innovations for business-critical applications, especially in an age of digitisation and the increasing levels of cyber crime associated with it.
An airport automates its standard processes
Let’s look at the example of a pilot project that Sunrise Business is currently running with a company that provides IT services to airports. The airport wants to automate various processes in a range of areas – including asset or baggage tracking, check-in or monitoring, and heat maps created using camera drones, to name just a few.
The mobile, pre-configured, modular 5G Mobile Private Network «MPN on Wheels» can be deployed as a Proof of Concept (PoC) installation at any location within the site. The PoC can then be used to evaluate which of the sub-applications tested can be optimised using the MPN. «MPN on Wheels» therefore enables Sunrise Business to give customers the option of testing MPN in practice without having to invest large sums of money at this stage.