Verizon turns up private LTE platform for enterprise

Verizon is making moves on private wireless, debuting an LTE-based network platform for enterprise customers in the U.S.

Dubbed "On Site LTE," it uses microradios and small cells that Verizon says are similar to Wi-Fi access points, as well as a mini on-site 4G LTE core.   

It’s designed to support all LTE spectrum bands, including Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz.

Verizon called out a customer dashboard feature for visibility into network performance, along with the carrier’s network management services.

Enterprises are looking to private networks as a way to keep data secure and on-site, with higher reliability, predictability, and capacity capabilities than Wi-Fi.

The new platform is only for U.S. businesses, but Verizon has a 5G private network offering for international enterprise customers through a recently launched partnership with Nokia.

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In Verizon’s announcement it positioned the LTE-based On Site platform as a foundation or stepping stone for enterprises to shift to 5G.

“On Site LTE gives customers the security, reliability, low-latency and coverage needed to run their businesses today, while establishing a technology innovation path to 5G,” said Sampath Sowmyanarayan, president of Global Enterprise for Verizon Business, in a statement.

Verizon has been making more noise on the enterprise side lately. Just this week the operator signed a Network as a Service deal to connect 9,000 Walgreens and Duane Reed-branded stores, in its largest NaaS agreement to date. That agreement doesn’t include private wireless, but could down the line, while a path to 5G services is part of the equation.  

“5G is increasingly become core to most large enterprises transforming themselves,” Sowmyanarayan told FierceWireless in an interview earlier this week.

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In-building 5G sites – including commercial cells from Corning and Samsung – are one piece of the operator’s 5G private network approach. On-site 5G mobile edge compute and dedicated core are the other two elements. Today’s announcement revolves around 4G though, and Verizon hasn’t yet commercialized a private 5G MEC or core platform. It has teamed up with Microsoft to integrate Azure for on-prem MEC and develop solutions.

Fellow U.S. carrier AT&T also has signaled interest in private networks, teaming up with Ericsson for a private LTE-based offering for enterprise using shared CBRS spectrum. Plans call for a 5G private wireless solution in the future.

The availability of CBRS spectrum itself has sparked more interest in private LTE networks, across industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and education. Utilities have been exploring dedicated LTE and 5G networks with CBRS and other frequency bands, including work with Anterix using 900 MHz spectrum.  

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When it comes to private networks and edge compute, Verizon SVP Adam Koeppe, speaking to FierceWireless this week, said that it’s been a major request from the enterprise community, with businesses looking to advance operations at, for example, manufacturing plants or logistics factory.

“[Enterprises] want a private network at their location with 4G/5G connectivity, core functions and edge compute infrastructure that allows them to do really low-latency solutions on their campus or in their plant,” Koeppe said. “We’ve partnered with Microsoft there to come up with private network-based solutions that can then rely upon localized or enterprise specific edge compute solutions.”

Verizon is focused on custom tailoring networks specific to the needs of enterprise and the verticals they’re in, he noted. Koeppe anticipates private network deployments to happen both domestically and internationally, spanning a range of enterprise verticals.