Healthcare: Can we move towards private 5G networks?

5G promises many things. AI and edge computing with IoT sensors beaming the data in real-time, and if you believe the consultants, they will raise the expectations of a “revolution” coming through. The more I write about it, the more I understand that 5G is a solution looking for a problem. However, the biggest advance in 5G is Open-RAN, which is the Lego-like assembly of components, instead of the “all-in-one-stack” networking solution. While there is a clear cut case for the telcos to push for the 5G to their consumers, I don’t foresee any major innovation happening in the short-term. One prime reason is that building blocks for healthcare delivery are missing. It will force enterprises to re-think backend haul and processes for the long-term.

Here’s something to munch on:

Can businesses get what they want from private cellular networks? Three factors in play – RCR Wireless News

The enabling ecosystem for LTE private cellular networks has matured significantly, but there’s still quite a ways to go when it comes to private 5G. And the network, as one participant put it, “is only one piece of the puzzle.” Spectrum availability, end-user device availability and overall flexibility also play in to whether cellular networks can accomplish the operational and financial objectives that enterprises are considering.

The other issues that crop up are “open-access” devices, where access is not locked out due to the closed loop nature of end-devices, total cost of ownership through the life-cycle of the product, and clear business case outcomes for “revenue”. The tussle between the telcos and private ownership of spectrum is also unsettled. Those who have the means to hire specific domain specialists to manage complexity will compete with established players for the same talent.

Further, there is an interesting nugget here:

It’s one thing to build a network, Reeb pointed out, and another one to fully understand the end nodes and their relationship to and impact on the operations of that network: How things fluctuate over time and how that affects design, capacity and ability to scale over time. One of the observations that Cambridge Consultants has made over time, he said, is that “a lot of organizations get themselves in trouble because they make a really large assumption at the very beginning of what they’re going to do which isn’t based on what is the best option, but as far as what is the lowest-cost option that we can do.”

Healthcare organisations will face these dilemmas in the future. It is better to create an “idea-bank” with clear economic projections for the future and evaluate operational metrics and ideas for the long term. One way for the roadmap is to define current lacunae and have clear roadmaps on the short-term and long-term implementation goals. Bringing about sudden cultural change will be the most difficult proposition. Therefore, the leadership has to grasp the technological changes accordingly.

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