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How to Make Private Cellular Networks as Simple as Wi-Fi

Simplicity

Most private cellular networks are deployed by large enterprises to deliver reliable, high-speed connectivity in areas where Wi-Fi performance is limited or inefficient. Examples include outdoor sites requiring seamless roaming for hundreds of users, factories needing dedicated spectrum to overcome noisy signal conditions, and medical facilities relying on uninterrupted connectivity and low latency. Although enterprises and organizations of all sizes can benefit from the many advantages of private cellular networks, adoption among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has been slower than anticipated.

Private cellular networks, particularly those using Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, have typically required extensive system integration and support. In contrast, Wi-Fi offers plug-and-play simplicity with easy setup, minimal system integration, and intuitive cloud-based management as well as multiple decades of deployment experience for IT teams. To broaden and accelerate the adoption of private cellular networks, vendors must ensure an end-to-end Wi-Fi-like experience spanning installation, integration, and management.

Understanding Complexity in Private Cellular Networks
Wi-Fi networks typically comprise access points (APs), routers, and switches, with more extensive setups incorporating on-premises or cloud-based servers to manage network traffic, user access, and security management. However, private cellular CBRS networks are inherently more complex, require a certified professional installer (CPI), and include many different components, including:

  • LTE/5G core(s): Manage all data and voice connections within private cellular networks, ensuring efficient routing and service delivery. They facilitate communication between user devices, radios, base stations, data services, and external networks.
  • Small Cell/Radios/APs: Transmit and receive cellular signals to connect devices to the network. Provide low-latency and high-speed data services, incorporating advanced encryption and authentication protocols. Route data between devices and the network core, efficiently facilitating roaming, seamless connectivity, and high-density traffic management.
  • Network Synchronization/Timing: CBRS networks require radios to have their time accurately synchronized to prevent interference and allow for multi-radio interoperability. Typical timing options include Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and GPS-based timing.
  • Subscriber identity module (SIM) cards: Provide secure network authentication by storing subscriber information and managing encryption keys. While critical for handsets and tablets, many IoT devices, such as surveillance cameras and smart sensors, rely on software-based certificates for authentication.
  • Spectrum access system (SAS): Manages and allocates spectrum in the CBRS band, continuously operating to prevent interference and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Network management infrastructure: Monitors, manages, and maintains network systems, including core network servers, base stations, switches, and radio access networks (RANs).

Streamlining Private Cellular Network Deployments
The telecommunications industry is working to simplify the complexity of private cellular networks and accelerate deployments for both large enterprises and SMEs. For example, Ataya has partnered with MosoLabs to launch a 5G Chorus AP for indoor and outdoor, which installs as easily as a Wi-Fi node.

Ataya_Chorus_Solution

Image 1. An overview of key Chorus AP features, illustrating multiple use cases and deployment options for both on-premises and cloud environments.

Its cloud-based platform enables zero-touch, auto-configured onboarding to simplify the deployment of private cellular networks and connects directly to a managed service provider’s (MSP) operations center to effectively eliminate time-consuming system integration and management. Moreover, the Chorus AP incorporates an integrated network data plane core that reduces latency, improves security, and increases network reliability by efficiently managing on-premises routing and data packet forwarding.

The Moso Control automation and management platform streamlines private cellular network deployments and enables partners to seamlessly integrate with existing single pane-of-glass solutions through extensive northbound APIs. Moso Control enhances network visibility and fine-tunes key parameters to uphold service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure IT and OT teams can easily manage the network as they do Wi-Fi today. Moso Control also offers comprehensive day 1 and day 2 radio management, including zero-touch provisioning, advanced KPIs/alarms, and detailed network analytics.

Moso Control Dashboard

Image 2. Dashboard snapshot of Moso Control, displaying an intuitive interface for real-time network management, including device status, manufacturer distribution, product class, and device type analytics.

Moso Control integrates a CBRS domain proxy, facilitating accurate and cost-effective spectrum planning before installation. It centralizes and secures key SAS-related processes, such as registration and grant requests, which provides visibility into spectrum usage and enables optimal spectrum allocation for the private CBRS network.

Simplified_grandmaster_PTP_Network_Design

Image 3. The Moso Concord smart Ethernet switch in action, depicting a streamlined private cellular network setup with integrated Grandmaster clock and PoE++ capabilities, connected to Moso Canopy devices and a 5G core.

The Moso Concord smart Ethernet switch further simplifies deployments by integrating timing, power, and data into a single device, eliminating the need for separate PTP network timing appliances and external PoE injectors for radio power.

Bolstering Private Network Security with Evolving SIM Technology
Wi-Fi networks primarily secure access through passwords and digital certificates. In contrast, private cellular networks rely on various SIM technologies to provide more robust security and flexible management options for smartphones and tablets.

Physical SIMs, which users can remove and change, add a layer of adaptability, allowing for easy switching of devices or carriers. Integrated in devices and chipsets, embedded SIMs (eSIMs) can’t be removed or swapped. This makes them less susceptible to physical tampering and they can be updated or managed remotely. Notably, software (or virtual) SIMs enable devices to easily download and switch operator profiles, potentially expanding cellular service into new markets and further simplifying network authentication management.

SIM cards use encrypted cellular transmission protocols that resist eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks and require mutual authentication for verification. Additionally, the data on SIM cards is typically protected with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), securely storing authentication keys and identifiers.

Conclusion
The drive to make private cellular networks as simple to deploy and manage as Wi-Fi is poised to significantly broaden and accelerate their adoption. MosoLabs continues to work closely with system integrators, hyperscalers, and service providers, helping to pioneer innovations like the Chorus AP, enable simpler adoption with Moso Control integration, and ensure private cellular technology is accessible to enterprises and organizations of all sizes. Reach out to our team to learn more.