HANNOVER, Germany–Rival network infrastructure vendors Nokia and Ericsson staked out slightly different stances around how to bring private networks to industries around Mobile World Congress. The conversation around what makes a private network private continued this week at the Hannover Messe industrial fair.

Before we examine Hannover Messe, let’s look back to MWC Barcelona. “We are working with our service provider customers. When we provide connectivity to enterprise, we will do with service providers. It is never a good idea to compete with your own customers. It is better to find win-win solutions. That’s what we are doing,” said Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm said.

The view from Finland meanwhile is clear: Nokia will go direct to industry, if required, to roll out private LTE and 5G networks, and serve pent-up demand among the industrial set for low-latency, high-bandwidth, high-reliability mobile networks.

Speaking to RCR Wireless News during Hannover Messe this week, Erik Josefsson, VP and head of advanced industries technologies and new business, said there was “some confusion” around the term “private networks” and repeatedly said penetrating the industrial market requires an “ecosystem not an egosystem.”

He said Ericsson is following a reseller model. “Our service provider that sits on the absolute best spectrum and has many years of experience in introducing new products. We believe our existing customers are in a very unique position sitting with licensed spectrum across the globe.”

Josefsson said that as operators sell Ericsson’s private networking equipment into industries, the end product is “self-managed and fully-controlled” by the end user.

Stephane Daeuble, Nokia’s head of industry vertical and private wireless networks marketing, explained that Nokia has developed a portfolio that will allow operators with licensed spectrum to resell a turnkey private network solution into the industrial space, like Ericsson, and further allow large industrials to invest directly in their own network with dedicated spectrum, and also an iteration geared toward smaller-scale players.

“There is a very big market for private wireless,” he said. “The number of sites is huge. The one thing we know is the operator has a big role to play, but the operator has a totally different business model. That’s one part of the market. Another thing we know as well is if we talk to industrial companies, many of them consider the connectivity to be mission critical. They want full end-to-end control of their network. They’re willing to invest in the IT and telecom expertise. That’s why at the same time we work with operators, we know a number of [industrial companies]want a fully independent network.

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