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Public or private: What is the right 5G network choice?

Becky Hsu

Based on reports, 5G is going to solve everything. It will deliver faster connectivity, greater reliability and security, lower latency, and network slicing. It seems that companies are anxious to connect everything to the internet via 5G.

But companies chasing 5G have an important decision to make.

The market demand is definitely there, and some companies are not prepared to wait. A recent Capgemini Research Institute report showed two-thirds of companies want to implement 5G for industrial operations within two years of availability. They see it as a key enabler of their digital transformation. The report also showed that one-third of manufacturing and asset-intensive companies planning to use 5G would consider applying for a 5G license or have done so already.

Those early adopters and the ones who follow will need to weigh the arguments for private and public 5G connectivity.

Private license: Autonomy and security

Some companies view their connectivity infrastructure as a strategic asset, allowing them to increase production and quality performance while also fostering innovation. Keeping this strategic asset under close control is seen as essential to building a competitive advantage. The potential issue here is network operators may focus on dense urban areas first and delay other options.

Public license: Experience and technology

Our research shows that telco operators plan to roll out 5G features over the next three years. They hold key assets, such as a wide portfolio of spectrum bands, access to technologies, and strong in-house knowledge of how to design, build, and operate a network.

So how do you choose between the two implementation paths: private or public networks? Three major considerations feed that decision:

  • Strategic fit: Flexibility to develop customized solutions, control over the network, and security are the key benefits of the private network. For public, it is zero overhead and capital expenditure. Understand which features align best to your strategic objectives.
  • Capabilities: If you choose to run your own network, you need the resources to operate and maintain it. Whether you outsource or keep it in-house, evaluate the associated cost and time.
  • Total cost: The initial capital expenditure for a private network may seem daunting but it should be weighed against the accumulated, multi-year cost of solutions over public networks. A small-scale private network may be less costly in the long run.

Telcos will most likely be part of whatever network you choose to implement, but we do see a considerable appetite for greater autonomy and security. Most companies will probably opt for a hybrid solution that taps into the expertise of telcos but provides companies with more independence on how they move ahead with their 5G plans. The key is to follow a strategy that leads to your objectives, so you can find the competitive advantage of 5G.

Becky Hsu is a Client Partner at Capgemini. Contact her at for more information.