Verizon equips Norfolk terminal with PTT-enhanced private network

Verizon Business is expanding its private network prowess to the Norfolk International Terminal (NIT), which is part of the Port of Virginia. This is the second private 5G network that Verizon Business has built for the Port of Virginia. A little over a year ago the company deployed a private 5G network at the Virginia International Terminal (VIT).

For this latest 5G private network deployment NIT was able to replace its Wi-Fi network with a private 5G network covering 270 acres of the NIT campus. The network has a standalone/dual-mode 5G core with outdoor C-Band radios and similar to the VIT deployment, Ericsson is the sole equipment vendor.

But what makes the NIT network special is that it is the first commercial implementation of Verizon’s Push to Talk Plus in a private network. The service has been in use in macro network implementations for quite some time but only recently was made available for private networks.

Push to Talk Plus is an app-based service that allows instant two-way communications. Push-to-talk (PTT) was made popular by Nextel in the 1990s and many industries, particularly construction, mining and public safety, came to rely upon Nextel’s walkie-talkie-like service to communicate.

Verizon’s Push to Talk Plus offers that same walkie-talkie-like service but provides additional benefits such as being able to share communications with up to 250 people at the same time with the push of a button, or share files, photos and videos too. 

Currently the Push to Talk Plus web site lists a handful of available devices that support Push to Talk Plus.  A Verizon spokesperson said that for LTE networks and simpler macro network PTT implementations there are dozens of available devices that support the technology but for more purpose-driven, industrial and 5G implementations such as the NIT private network, there are fewer devices available. However, he added that it depends upon the specific use case, the spectrum, the hardware, and the certifications required as to how many end devices will support the PTT service.

Nevertheless, PTT is getting renewed interest from private network customers. The Verizon spokesperson said that the company is seeing strong demand for PTT, particularly because it will deliver immediate return on investment.

Building 5G private networks is a growing focus for Verizon. During a recent Morgan Stanley investor meeting, Verizon EVP & CFO Tony Skiadas said that the company is seeing good traction with private networks, noting that customers like the reliability and the dedicated bandwidth that they can get with a 5G private network.  He also said that enterprises are also interested in additional services such as robotics, factory automation and logistics.