Maqbool Aliani | Chief Technology Officer
At Ligado, we’ve been talking for years about the need to bring the power of next-generation networks to the enterprise.
While it’s easy to see how 5G networks will revolutionize connectivity in both work and play for consumers, what it will mean for businesses – especially those in the industrial space – is often less clear. That’s why I wanted to outline a few of the ways we think Ligado’s 5G Mobile Private Network solution would be a gamechanger for major industries and infrastructure across the country.
Let’s start with what’s been in the news lately: Pipelines safely deliver vital energy to customers and require dependable, high-security networking to do so. But last month, we saw what happened when the largest oil pipeline system in the U.S. became the subject of a malware cyberattack. The resulting five-day shutdown created temporary shortages of gasoline and jet fuel along the East Coast and exposed data from the company and its customers.
The securing of our pipelines is essential, but the need extends well beyond the energy sector to infrastructure industries whose operations are increasingly digitized and automated, from manufacturing to shipping ports to agriculture. There are myriad ways to secure our systems throughout the technology stack and in various processes and protocols. But one opportunity that must be pursued with urgency is the critical role private networks and dedicated spectrum will have in a securing and modernizing our digital infrastructure.
That’s where Ligado comes in: With 35 MHz of lower mid-band spectrum, we can provide companies with ultra-reliable and highly secure private networks that mean tighter control over enterprise operations. Just like the FirstNet network designed to keep public safety communications on a dedicated network instead of the public airwaves, creating more opportunities for critical infrastructure companies to move operations to a private network can better protect them against external malfeasance.
The use cases for this 5G Mobile Private Network solution extend beyond securing our pipelines, though. In fact, our private network solution could support even the most complex operations, like facilitating a secure, dedicated network for power generation plants and full power grids.
Power companies must balance several imperatives, like growing consumption needs, emissions reductions, and worker safety. A dedicated private network helps monitor each of these priorities, supporting everything from equipment monitoring to safety inspections to data prioritization to plant security – all while powering a generation facility and electric grid that serves hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. Security and reliability are essential for a power grid, but so is flexibility and efficiency – and that’s why we are designing our private network solution to check each of these boxes.
Part of why Ligado is well-suited to provide these services is our ability to offer the best of satellite and terrestrial connectivity in one network. Our mobile satellite, which has been serving enterprise and government customers for more than 25 years, will provide enhanced capabilities for private networks by ensuring network redundancy and extended coverage.
It may seem obvious that highly technical pipelines or the electrical grid are top candidates for private networks – but the reality is that securing a much wider range of enterprises is crucial for preventing significant societal disruption. Take the example of major beef processor JBS, whose production plants were recently shut down by a cyberattack: We may not think of such a facility as needing high-tech defenses, but with so much of industrial enterprise being digitized and so many people being impacted by major disruptions, the ability of private networks to bolster security could have major benefits for these entities and their consumers as well.
Finally, our 5G Mobile Private Network solution would not be just for localized use. It could also be used to create a secure, shared connection between a more diverse group of actors – even ones that don’t work for the same company. Take the example of a harbor management port authority: Amid surging port congestion, our private network solution could be set up across an intermodal facility to expedite logistical cargo operations between different companies and carriers. The solution would emphasize security within the port and allow all parties involved to maintain complete control of their own assets. The network could service multiple tenants with their own services and protocols, with a local coverage range and offshore coverage for many miles.
More than ever before, businesses need solutions that meet their specific needs, regardless of size or scope – but the one thing they all need is secure and always-on connectivity. We think the answer is 5G Mobile Private Networks – run on dedicated, licensed spectrum – that result in fewer security risks and a greater net economic benefits for businesses. We’re proud to be building a solution that better enables the digital transformation that mission-critical industries are clamoring for – and we can’t wait to bring it to market.
Maqbool Aliani is the Chief Technology Officer for Ligado