What’s up with… Private networks, towers investments, Accenture and Salesforce

5G private networks can advance Industry 4.0 and enable autonomous manufacturing processes, according to BT

5G private networks can advance Industry 4.0 and enable autonomous manufacturing processes, according to BT

  • Private wireless network investments set to boom
  • Everest Infrastructure Partners raises cash and buys into Portugal
  • Accenture and Salesforce announce major AI investment and developments

In today’s industry news roundup: Annual investment in private wireless networks is going to grow like wildfire and hit $10bn per year by 2028, reckons analyst group; towers firm Everest Infrastructure Partners has raised fresh funds and launched into Europe with an acquisition; big names are pumping big bucks into AI; and much more! 

Enterprises are expected to significantly increase their investments in private wireless networks over the next five years, according to a new Juniper Research report that suggests spending by business users on their own mobile networks will reach a staggering $10bn per year by 2028, up from $1bn in 2023. The manufacturing sector will be the main vertical driving such investments, followed by the energy industry and public services, according to the research house’s forecast. “The manufacturing market demands more frictionless coordination of automated processes and devices, thus requiring high-levels of orchestration via software-defined networks,” notes the Juniper Research team in this press release. “This complexity means that manufacturing will be a key use case for the more rapid adoption of 5G private networks, due to its infrastructure supporting high-device density operations and ultra-low latency properties,” it adds, urging network vendors to “offer an ongoing managed service approach to enterprises. This will enable private network vendors to maintain a continuous relationship with their customers and benefit from recurring revenue. Ongoing technical support and other value-added services will be necessary to maximise the value proposition to customers,” according to the Juniper Research team. And no private networks report would be complete without a look at network slicing. “Spectrum resource management will be the key determining factor in the quality of service provision to minimise network interference. As a result, network slicing will emerge as a key technology for vendors to ensure that high throughput to private network connections is guaranteed for end users,” it states.  

As if sensing that significant market growth is upcoming, one of the leading private wireless network vendors, Celona, has bolstered its senior executive team. The company has appointed Sanjeet Pandit, who has previously held roles at Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, as its vice president of global relations with operators and ecosystems. It has also hired UK-based  “industry veterans” Paul Donovan and Graham Duthie to help grow its business in Europe. “As one of the most developed and affluent regions in the world, Europe is playing a key role in the widespread rollout of 5G globally,” noted Celona founder and CEO Rajeev Shah. “We believe this market is primed for astonishing growth as organisations realise the value that private wireless brings in supercharging business operations across a myriad of vital business use cases,” he added. 

And still in the private wireless network sector… European mobile network infrastructure giant Cellnex has teamed up with Spanish airport management company Aena for a 5G private network pilot (appropriate much!) at San Sebastian airport near the Spanish-French border. The network will be used to develop “various use cases related to drone operations… mainly in terms of security and advanced monitoring,” as well as to collect and secure environmental data (such as air pollution, temperature, humidity and noise) using the Cellnex SmartBrain Platform. Cellnex is best known for building and running shared mobile tower infrastructure around Europe but it also develops, builds and manages private wireless networks using the assets and people it brought on board through its acquisition of Edzcom in 2020.

Talking of mobile towers… Everest Infrastructure Partners, which owns about 2,500 towers in four countries (US, Australia, New Zealand and Portugal) has just raised US$500m in new equity capital commitments to add to a similar level of debt financing that was recently agreed. “We have developed and scaled one of the world’s most capital-efficient aggregation platforms pursuing the acquisition and development of wireless towers, rooftops, ground leases, indoor DAS [distributed antenna systems], and other communications infrastructure,” boasted the company’s president Mike Mackey. “Everest… recently launched international operations in Australia, New Zealand, and Portugal, [and] with global 5G data traffic expected to increase by 60% annually over the next decade, we expect our growth strategy to continue to lead the market for the foreseeable future,” he added. It kickstarted operations in Portugal with the recently announced acquisition of Lisbon-based Blue Sites Telco (for an undisclosed sum), which runs more than 310 mobile tower sites in key locations across Portugal. 

With artificial intelligence (AI) fever having well and truly infected the world’s major companies, more big names are piling significant funds into AI developments. Professional services and systems integration giant Accenture, for example, has just announced a “$3bn investment over three years in its data and AI practice to help clients across all industries rapidly and responsibly advance and use AI to achieve greater growth, efficiency and resilience.” Wow! That announcement comes only days after Accenture revealed it had acquired Austin, Texas-based Nextira, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Premier Partner that “uses AWS to deliver cloud-native innovation, predictive analytics and immersive experiences for their clients” by building “cloud-based solutions and services with cutting-edge engineering skills, AI, machine learning, and data analytics that enable clients to design, build, launch and optimise high-performance computing environments.”   

Accenture’s not the only one throwing big money at AI. Salesforce Ventures has doubled the size of its Generative AI Fund from $250m to $500m “as part of its continuing commitment to bolster the AI startup ecosystem and spark the development of responsible generative AI. “We are already seeing AI change the way the world works, and we’re excited to build on the momentum of our Generative AI Fund,” stated Paul Drews, managing partner at Salesforce Ventures. “Expanding our Generative AI Fund enables us to work with even more entrepreneurs who are accelerating the development of transformative AI solutions for the enterprise, and we are excited to support the next generation of innovative founders,” he added. 

To complement that move, Salesforce has also just announced AI Cloud, which it claims is “the fastest and most trusted way for Salesforce customers to supercharge their customer experiences and company productivity with generative AI for the enterprise.” According to the company, “AI Cloud is a suite of capabilities optimised for delivering trusted, open, and real-time generative experiences across all applications and workflows. AI Cloud’s new Einstein GPT Trust Layer resolves concerns of risks associated with adopting generative AI by enabling customers to meet their enterprise data security and compliance demands, while offering customers the benefits of generative AI.” I wonder what Albert would have made of that…

And it also announced ‘Salesforce Accelerator – AI for Impact’, which it describes as a “philanthropic initiative to help purpose-driven organisations gain equitable access to trusted generative AI technologies.” 

Keep an eye out for news from US 5G newcomer Dish Network, as the mobile services challenger, which has spent billions of dollars building out an Open RAN-based network across major urban areas, has its latest regulatory deadline to meet. Under the terms of its spectrum licence, Dish needs to be covering at least 70% of the US population with its 5G network by the end of 14 June. There was no official announcement as this article was being written, but we can expect to hear from Dish imminently, as executives were already sounding confident in May about meeting the deadline, and the company left it very late to announce it had met its initial coverage deadline in June 2022

- The staff, TelecomTV