Betacom unveiled a program, called the Betacom Private 5G Ecosystem, to accelerate Industry 4.0 initiatives powered by private 4G/5G networks.

The ecosystem currently includes 15 entities with a range of expertise, from industrial IoT devices to applications and system integration. Google Cloud, Intel, Ingram Micro and Qualcomm are among the collaborators.

It's not surprising given what Betacom has been doing over the past year or so with unlicensed CBRS spectrum and various partners. Michael Davies, VP Business Partner Strategy at Betacom, said it’s an innovative way to help the market realize the benefits of “everything 5G.”

“We’re looking to solve the enterprise automation challenges with easy, proven solutions,” he told Fierce.

Here are the categories and the charter members within each of them:

Industrial IoT Solutions: ADB SAFEGATE Americas,  Axis Communications, Evolon, Ingram Micro, Qualcomm Technologies,  Solis Energy, SVT Robotics and Vecna Robotics

Mobile Edge Compute: Google Cloud, Ingram Microa and Intel

System Integrators: CDW, Ingram Micro and QuayChain

5GaaS Technology: Airspan, Druid Software, FibroLAN, Intel and Qualcomm

The company said the new ecosystem will provide opportunities for joint technology development and validation, sales incentives, tools, training and joint go-to-market initiatives. Partners will have access to Betacom’s resources at MxD, the national Digital Manufacturing and Cybersecurity Institute based in Chicago, and at Dallas-Based Teltech Group, a company specializing in logistics/supply chain services, asset management and technology solutions.

Private wireless perspective

By some estimates, private wireless is not meeting expectations. But that’s not the case for Betacom.

“I don’t think we really had those expectations,” Davies said. “Nobody expected adoption of private wireless network any quicker than we’re seeing it today… We certainly didn’t think we would be at this point that we are with networks deployed currently.”

That’s for two reasons. One is the device ecosystem is not completely where it needs to be for 5G – and that applies to both 5G standalone (SA) and CBRS. The other reason is there’s a cost to transitioning to a private network and it needs to be accounted for in the budget; a lot of enterprises are caught in an uncertain economic environment where everyone is wondering if there’s going to be a recession or not.

“If you listen to most people, they’ll tell you 2024 is when it starts” at any kind of scale for private wireless, he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that it will come. There’s no doubt that private wireless will need to be adopted.”

There are also different versions of private wireless out there. “We have a true private private [sic] wireless network,” he said. The other versions are the do-it-yourself variety from infrastructure vendors  and it’s no wonder that’s not being embraced, he said, because enterprises don’t want their IT departments to try to become cellular experts.

Similarly, once an enterprise learns the cost for data packet usage that mobile carriers charge for their private networks, those solutions become economically questionable for an enterprise, he asserted.

As for Betacom, it’s one of the few with an end-to-end solution, he said. “We’re seeing a lot of traction, a lot of adoption and I expect that adoption to accelerate as we get to the end of this year and into next year,” he added.

On the question of whether private wireless is taking off, Brian Watkins, EVP, 5G as a service at Betacom, said a lot depends on the vertical.

For example, airports are showing great interest; Betacom has active deployments in three airports and RFPs submitted with four other major airports. On the other hand, manufacturing in the commercial sector is taking longer, but in the government sector, it’s exploding, he said.

Broadly speaking, it’s moving out of a proof-of-concept stage to real deployments. “It’s an exciting time,” Watkins said, reiterating that 2024 is going to be a high-growth year for Betacom.