Private 5G and Keeping Construction Sites Connected – Is it viable?

Posted on: August 23, 2023 at 8:45 am

The Digital Construction Show in June showcased some of the industry’s most groundbreaking advancements. The spotlight was firmly on automation, robots, BIM systems, and construction-specific applications and software. Central to these innovations is the drive for increased efficiency, productivity, heightened safety standards, and sustainability. A key underlying factor? The necessity for robust and consistent connectivity throughout construction sites.

Cloudcell Technologies: Pioneers in Construction Connectivity

With over seven years of experience, Cloudcell Technologies has been at the forefront of providing construction site offices with unparalleled connectivity. Over the years, the demand for connectivity has soared, moving beyond the confinements of office walls and spreading across construction sites. Within site offices, WiFi is the go-to solution. However, relying solely on WiFi for expansive construction sites presents its set of challenges—fluctuating environments and channel congestion to name a few.

Presently, 4/5G public networks serve as the primary mode of site-wide connectivity. But they come with their share of pitfalls. Network coverage can be spotty, depending on the service provider, and ensuring uniform network access for various contractors becomes a cumbersome task.

Private 5G: The Game-Changer?

Here’s where Private 5G enters the conversation. Ofcom has earmarked specific 4/5G frequency bands for private use. The allure of 5G, with its reduced latency and expansive coverage capabilities, makes it a prime candidate.

There are two predominant flavours of Private 5G:

  1. Neutral Host: This version connects the private 5G network to the host’s network, ideally integrated with all major MNOs. It acts as an extension of the public network, allowing for a seamless transition between public and private networks. Existing 5G devices and SIMs remain compatible on-site.
  2. Standalone: This network operates in isolation from public 5G networks. Devices require specialized SIMs to access it. Though it’s seemingly the economical choice, it demands more intricate management.

Cost, as always, remains the elephant in the room. With Private 5G setup costs soaring over £100k, a robust ROI is essential. Weighing the pros and cons, standalone networks might seem more financially viable, albeit with increased management complexities. Regardless of the chosen model, backhaul connections (preferably fibre, despite their slow deployment) are essential for traffic management.

In Conclusion

While Private 5G appears promising for site connectivity, its implementation hinges on the potential for substantial cost savings and an appreciable ROI period. It’s likely best suited for prolonged construction endeavours, like large-scale housing and commercial projects, where the sizable budgets can absorb the costs and benefit immensely from the potential savings.