Private networks manifesto

Private Networks

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This article is part of: Private Networks

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We leverage our extensive research on the industry to advise telcos, systems integrators, managed service providers and technology vendors on how to develop successful private networking propositions. All of these players will need to collaborate in order to navigate complex enterprise demands and achieve measurable transformation benefits for their customers.

Creating a successful private networks strategy

Private networks address the connectivity needs of enterprise customers from different verticals with unique sets of operational, financial, and regulatory constraints. For solution and service providers, understanding the customers’ unique pain points is crucial to navigating this complex demand. This includes speaking their language and being able to translate the capabilities of private networks (and other technologies) into material impact on their business metrics and operations.

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No two enterprise journeys are identical, yet common characteristics emerge. Enterprises often embark on private network deployments through two main pathways: the tactical pathway driven by immediate network needs, and the strategic pathway as part of broader transformation projects. While these pathways may initially appear discrete, they often intersect, with tactical deployments evolving into strategic transformations over time.

Beyond understanding the customer’s requirements and delivering the right connectivity solution, service providers must look for strategies to scale. Many private network deployments stagnate in the pilot phase which highlights challenges of commercial scalability. These include:

  • Lack of alignment within the customer’s internal teams and the lack of business case justification as well as integration issues with legacy infrastructure and systems.
  • High cost and effort of delivering, running and maintaining private networks at scale for most enterprises.
  • Fragmented ecosystem and heterogenous regulatory landscape add further layers of complexity.

Addressing these challenges requires collective efforts from stakeholders within the supplier ecosystem to foster collaboration, strengthen the business case and streamline the network (and application) lifecycle processes.

Many players including telcos, systems integrators and vendors are moving into and establishing themselves in the market with considerably high expectations. While many of them expected a rapid take off, reflecting the eagerness from enterprise customers on the potential advantages delivered by the technology, there is now a growing realisation that the market presents a sizeable but longer term opportunity. Our private networks forecast indicates that the market will reach US$21 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 64%. Over the coming years, private networks are expected to drive digital transformation in various industries. Telcos and other private networks solution and service providers have a crucial role to play in enabling this future, but to meet the needs of a diverse range of customers they will need a multi-faceted approach, as shown in the graphic below.

Four core elements of private networks offerings

Source: STL Partners

1. Adopting a customer-centric focus

A private network is an enabler, not a solution. Private network providers should keep the needs and priorities of the end customer at the forefront of all network deployment and management processes. They need to seek feedback, prioritise user experience, and continuously strive towards feasible and profitable use cases.

  • Recognise the diverse needs of different vertical markets. Each sector (and even subsector) has its own unique challenges, regulations, and levels of digitalisation across customers. Offerings must be tailored to meet the demanding nature of these environments with stringent service-level agreements (SLAs) and mission-critical applications.
  • Invest in customer education and enablement programs to increase awareness and understanding of private network solutions. Provide educational materials to empower customers to make informed decisions and maximise the value of their investments.

2. Building a flexible and comprehensive portfolio

One size does not fit all. Private network providers should offer flexible, cost-effective and future-proof solutions and services to open the opportunity to a wider range of customers and adapt easily to changing needs and market dynamics.

  • Embrace interoperable solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing IT and operational technology (OT) systems. This simplifies deployment, fosters innovation, and lets customers leverage best-in-class technology.
  • Offer diverse delivery options. In addition to use case requirements, enterprises’ choice of solutions is impacted by other factors including the size of operations, internal resources and capabilities, and project funding options. Providers need to adopt modular and compact on-premises private network solutions well as network slicing and hybrid solutions to enable them to target a wider range of customers, including SMEs and even smaller deployments.

3. Establishing a clear role and strategy

Providers should be clear on what they are supplying to customers. They should present a simple and direct proposition to their customers to simplify the adoption and gain their trust.

  • Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the target market to identify specific customer segments, their unique needs, and pain points. Segment the market based on industry verticals, geographic locations, and technological requirements to tailor solutions accordingly.
  • Ensure alignment between the value proposition of the private networks solution and the identified customer segments. Clearly articulate how the solution addresses key pain points, enhances operational efficiency, and delivers tangible business outcomes for each segment.
  • Showcase successful private networks implementations and tangible measurable outcomes where available. These success stories become powerful marketing tools, fostering trust, and attracting new customers within that specific vertical.

4. Forging strategic partnerships

No one can do private networks alone. Providers should prioritise forging strategic alliances with specialists and complementary technology providers, leveraging expertise to deliver comprehensive solutions and demonstrate successful use cases.

  • Foster partnerships with complementary technology providers. By integrating with providers of security platforms and edge servers for example, private networkscan offer more comprehensive solutions. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall value proposition.
  • Partnering with domain specialists (e.g., industrial automation, specialist integrators) allows providers to navigate the complexities associated with specific applications, particularly those with strict safety or compliance requirements. These partnerships offer invaluable technical knowledge and regulatory understanding.
  • Collaborate with established partners to develop and execute joint go-to-market strategies. By leveraging existing customer bases and combined resources, partners can maximise market reach and impact and accelerate private network adoption.

Table of contents

  • Executive Summary
    1. Adopting a customer-centric focus
    2. Building a flexible and comprehensive portfolio
    3. Establishing a clear role and strategy
    4. Forging strategic partnerships
  • A private network is an enabler, not a solution
    • Customers have two demand pathways for private networks
    • High total cost of ownership is limiting adoption
  • One size does not fit all
    • Three main deployment models
    • Private networks management
  • What role to play: Opportunities and skills vary for different players
    • Mapping the path to deployment
    • Three main roles to play in a private network deployment
  • Why partnerships are important: No one can do private networks alone
    • The need for end-to-end solutions
    • Diverse ecosystem with varying capabilities across new and existing players
    • Navigating spectrum availability
  • Conclusion: From hype to reality
  • What next: Get in touch to discuss your private networking strategy
  • Index

For more information on STL Partners’ private networks research, please visit our hub here.

This manifesto complements:

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Technologies and industry terms referenced include: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ahmed Ali


Ahmed Ali

Senior Analyst

Ahmed is Senior Analyst and a member of STL Partners research team. His areas of focus include edge computing, IoT and private networks within the Growing Enterprise and the Network Futures research services. Ahmed holds an MSc in Communications Electronics and Computer Engineering from the University of Nottingham.