Understanding the impact of the new generation of wireless technologies

How will the next generation of wireless technologies impact your business?

The importance of wireless

Today, mobility is a cornerstone technology in almost every business. Mobile devices help workers get more done in a day, as they are able to execute tasks faster and with greater accuracy. Retail associates can better assist shoppers. Nurses can provide patients with faster care. Manufacturers can take production volumes and product quality to the next level. Warehouse operators can make sure every customer receives the right items in the right order on time. And public safety officers and first responders can better protect and serve their communities.

At the heart of every one of those mobility solutions is a wireless network, the key enabler that carries the steady flow of information to and from the mobile devices that drive your business processes — and your success. But wireless technologies are evolving, and the pace of evolution is increasing: 4G is evolving into 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E have arrived, and the notion of a shared spectrum wireless network is gaining momentum — an example is Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) in North America.

As an enterprise, you have probably started discussions about how this next generation of wireless technologies can impact your current mobility solutions, your near-term mobility plans, and your overall mobility strategy.

Do you need to start replacing infrastructure and devices now?

How will your organisation benefit from the new generation of wireless technologies? And when is the right time to build migration into your mobility plans? The following overview of these new wireless technologies and our initial recommendations can help you determine where and how these technologies fit best in your organisation — and when you should begin deployment.

 

5G – The fastest growing mobile technology in history

5G is here. It’s everywhere you look. But is it time to migrate to 5G devices for your enterprise applications?

While 5G is here, it is far from ubiquitous, which heavily impacts its ability to deliver value in enterprise applications. Today, coverage is primarily centred in highly populated areas, with coverage in rural areas expected to lag significantly. In addition, there are three 5G bands — low, mid and high (known as mmWave). mmWave is the band that offers the gigabit speeds.

In order to justify the higher cost of 5G mobile devices, the 5G mmWave should be available in nearly all of the geographic areas where your workers spend their time. Thus, in areas where 5G is not available, connectivity will fall back to 4G, reducing the ROI for 5G devices.

And, if enterprise applications are designed to leverage the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G where the required 5G speeds aren’t yet available, application performance could suffer, impacting workforce productivity, at the least, and possibly worker safety.

Building out 5G

In short, just as it took many years for the buildout of the 4G network, it will take years for the full buildout of the 5G network as well. So, when it comes to the need for 5G devices in the enterprise, you have plenty of time to migrate. There is no risk of carriers abandoning their 4G networks anytime in the near future — the 5G networks are built on top of 4G networks.

In fact, some carriers are continuing to improve their 4G networks, in turn improving the quality of the service your workers experience. And even as 5G becomes available to your workers, there will be no impact or degradation of their 4G voice or data communications.

As a result, your workforce can continue to use their 4G devices until your enterprise has a use case that requires the speeds of 5G — and 5G higher speeds are actually available throughout your coverage area. When your 4G devices are ready to be replaced, you can assess whether your applications have a need for 5G speed, and if so, begin migration at that time.

 

Wi-Fi 6/6E – The importance of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E in the enterprise

Ultimately, you will need to upgrade your Wi-Fi network to either Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E.

But when and how should you migrate? And should you upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E?

To answer these questions, you need to take a good look at current application needs as well as anticipated new application needs. You’ll also need to consider whether Wi-Fi 6E is available in your geography. If Wi-Fi 6E is not currently available in your area, you’ll need to consider when certification is expected, how much of the spectrum will be available, and whether there are any usage restrictions.

The answers will help guide your planning. You may need Wi-Fi 6 now and Wi-Fi 6E to meet future plans. You might need to layer Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E network and a CBRS network together to achieve the coverage you need. Or you may never need Wi-Fi 6E. Understanding your application roadmap and availability in your geography will help you determine if, how and when to start down the upgrade path.

 

CBRS What is it, and who needs it?

CBRS marries the best of Wi-Fi and cellular technology.

Do you have applications that could benefit from this new wireless network option?

CBRS has the nickname the “Innovation Band” for good reason. Simply put, its architecture and capabilities enable enterprise customers to leverage cellular technologies such as 4G and 5G, using licensed and/or unlicensed spectrum. CBRS elegantly combines the best of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies, marrying Wi-Fi’s great in-building coverage with cellular’s great outdoor coverage, speeds, capacity and range. It also offers greater security than either network provides today. The result is a single wireless network capable of accommodating an extremely high volume of connections in every inch of the most expansive environments.

Integrated CBRS or using it as it’s own network

CBRS can be layered into an existing wireless environment to meet additional needs or deployed as a single standalone wireless network. The choice is yours, based on your goals and objectives. For example, at a championship golf tournament, an event host could deploy CBRS for communications with staff and attendees, while attendee personal phone calls and text messages could utilize the public cellular network. Or a hospital could leave a Wi-Fi network intact to provide patients and families with Wi-Fi connectivity but layer in CBRS to separate all hospital-related wireless communications, ensuring quality of service and privacy.

Whether you want to deploy a standalone CBRS-only private LTE wireless network or want to layer CBRS with your existing wireless services, you can choose to either purchase, install, operate and manage the CBRS equipment yourself or contract with a provider that will take care of the back end — installation, deployment and everyday management — for a dependable monthly fee that makes budgeting easy.

While, CBRS private LTE networks are only available in the U.S. today, similar networks are under consideration in other areas, including the United Kingdom and parts of Europe.

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