View of the Las Vegas Boulevard at night with lots of hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.
Image: Javen/Adobe Stock

Las Vegas, working with NTT—an IT infrastructure and service company—announced the deployment of the most extensive 5G private network in the U.S. The announcement was made during the Mobile World Congress 2022 in Las Vegas.

NTT also presented a full-stack Net-Zero Action offering to help companies reach carbon zero goals with data-driven technology combining 5G, edge computing and Internet of Things solutions.

The new 5G private network for Las Vegas will support the government, healthcare, education and businesses. Additionally, it will attempt to fuel the startup tech movement that is transforming the city into a new tech hub.

Unlike public Wi-Fi networks or most Citizens Broadband Radio Spectrum deployments, the Las Vegas 5G private network will span across public spaces. It’s also the first network of its size to be open to third-party application programming interfaces and end-user devices.

TechRepublic spoke to Shahid Ahmed, EVP of new ventures and innovation at NTT, just days before the Las Vegas announcement to get the inside view on the 5G milestone project.

“The private 5g network, custom-built for the whole city, mainly serves two purposes: one is to fill the gap around the digital divide, and the other is focused on the CIO’s organization of the city, which will connect a variety of IoT devices, including cameras and sensors,” Ahmed said.

During the Sept. 28 event Viva Tech Vegas, Michael Sherwood, CIO of the City of Las Vegas, said that innovation is the DNA and culture of the city. Sherwood added that connectivity, the last mile of innovation, can help others, drive security and create opportunities in telemedicine, transportation, education and business.

Las Vegas: From digital divide to smart city

The City of Las Vegas municipality, its stakeholders and the business community will get access to the capabilities of the new P5G network, such as its ultra-low latency, security and open architecture that can be used as the foundation for new applications, technologies and developments.

The city and NTT are working to improve remote learning connectivity for Clark County School District students and connect residents and healthcare services with telehealth. Las Vegas will also use the network to create smart city solutions with automated capacities. This has the potential to sustain future techs like autonomous vehicles, drones and new security systems.

SEE: Research: How to successfully navigate the technical and management challenges of a remote workforce (TechRepublic Premium)

Additionally, it will be used to monitor public spaces, traffic and events as well as assist law enforcement. The project will be available to more than 2.2 million local residents and the additional 30 to 40 million tourists that reach Las Vegas every year.

“Many of the unconnected communities, all around the world—not just in Las Vegas—face many challenges,” Ahmed explained. “We’re helping the city to fill that gap with proper broadband speeds available to communities across the Nevada region, which is the state that serves out Las Vegas.”

Ahmed explained how sensors and cameras will power the smart transformation of the city, supported by 5G connectivity and stressed that the network can support many sustainable applications.

“Sustainability is to provide the right kind of broadband speeds to impoverished communities, underserved communities,” Ahmed said. He told TechRepublic that NTT has plans to expand to other cities.

According to Ahmed, cities have a very simple choice to make. Either the government and its residents pay millions of dollars in cellular 5G charges to companies like AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile, or they can run in-house private 5G networks.

The benefits and challenges of private 5G networks

Private networks have several benefits: They can be open, flexible and customized. They also provide increased security and data quality. The concept of a private 5G network is not new. Until now, it has mainly been used by large industrial sectors like the automotive sector. But NTT’s private 5G network works in larger areas, where usually public 5G networks managed by carriers rule the industry.

Ahmed explains that by using 5G, governments can save money when deploying technologies and scaling projects. For example, a network of CCTV cameras or sensors, which used to be a time-consuming and costly installation mainly due to cable connections, can be set up easily and scaled up rapidly when the devices are 5G-capable and a reliable private network is already in place. Similarly, the applications are endless, especially when the network is open to all sectors.

“Private 5G has a lot of benefits in certain situations,” Sherwood said. “In our security model, we want the ability, for example when we’re doing telemedicine, to have a private cellular network that provides certain assurances and certain data quality standards.

“The same benefits apply to parks and public spaces, Wi-Fi for the people, and private sectors, which need to operate with IoT and other types of data transactions. It’s really about diversity of technology being inclusive and open to all the different opportunities that are out there.”

Las Vegas is demonstrating its desire to push the boundaries and wants to solidify its standpoint as a tech hub by providing resources for new technologies, communities and businesses to develop an open environment. Like all network designs, the Las Vegas network has three fundamental cores: coverage, performance and reliability. And NTT reckons it can balance the trade-off between the three.

“You can have the best coverage, but then you’ll have very little performance, or you have high reliability, and then your performance might go down, right? So, you have to balance those three things at the same time and optimize the network,” Ahmed explained the technical challenges of deploying the most extensive private network in the U.S.

Additionally, budget and costs also constrain the project. Other than scale and diversity, “building a private network is no different than a public network in that respect,” Ahmed said.

Using the edge, 5G and IoT to meet zero-carbon goals

The full-stack Net-Zero Action offering that NTT presented during the Las Vegas event is a clear example of how 5G networks can provide support for technological solutions that use innovation to solve real-world problems.

SEE: IT data center green energy policy (TechRepublic Premium)

In this case, the offering works to provide companies with a data-driven approach to measure their carbon footprint in real time and take immediate actions that will help them reduce emissions and reach their carbon-neutral goals.

Zero carbon visions have been embraced by almost every sector and company. According to Fortune 500, nearly 60% of organizations are working to reduce their carbon footprint. However, they are not using technology to gain real insight into their emissions and operations.

Carbon offset policies—investing in green projects to compensate for emissions—initially emerged as a promised solution. Still, deep analysis of these systems reveals that carbon offsetting has many flaws, from ethical concerns to inaccurate data.

“Companies can buy a bunch of credits and declare they are zero carbon. But, are they zero carbon? Did they achieve net zero?” Ahmed asked.

The NTT climate-focused solution helps organizations achieve better economic performance through enhanced climate action, including measuring, monitoring and reporting impact. The company believes this allows companies to proactively reduce climate incidents and improve response times when detecting issues.

The full-stack offering includes:

  • Remote Environmental Monitoring: Sensors to identify the presence of pollutants in the air, water and plants across the globe in real time. It can also assist with energy consumption and monitor gas emissions in transportation.
  • Digital Twin and Smart Solution: A combination of NTT Smart Solutions and Digital Twin capabilities that act as the “brain” of the system leverages machine learning to predict and respond to incidents. It can also be used to measure carbon footprints by running scenarios virtually before the real implementations.
  • Automation and Orchestration: Leveraging the existing A&O, the Digital Twin automates problem resolution where possible or creates a ticket for support personnel to investigate and address the issue and thus limit greenhouse impact.

“It’s like when you’re driving your car, if you know your fuel gauge, you can decide to hit the brakes or not. So, it’s a principle. If you don’t know where you stand, you don’t know when to hit the brakes,” Ahmed said.

From the country’s largest 5G private network to applications and sustainability solutions for modern challenges, NTT’s presentation at MWC 2022 inspired and set new standards for the 5G tech sector. The city of Las Vegas is betting heavily that its move deep into innovation and technology, with intergovernmental, public and private cooperation, will benefit communities and solve real-world problems.

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