Why private LTE gives you connectivity options beyond Wi-Fi

 In End-User Devices, Hardware, Networking

The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has only heightened the need for greater connectivity. Unfortunately, many organizations still rely on Wi-Fi, and that isn’t always the answer.

Sometimes, companies work out of spacious structures that are too big for wireless access points to cover.

Other times, coverage isn’t the issue; it’s penetration, as Wi-Fi signals can’t get through barriers in the facility – though the building does get cellular service.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, and still need access to high performance and reliable wireless connectivity, you’re probably looking for answers.

There are options. One of which is private LTE.

What is private LTE?

Private LTE is your own local cellular network based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) specifications that’s designed to fit the needs of enterprises.

Using the same LTE chipsets as phones, it allows for the use of cellular devices where Wi-Fi coverage suffers. It also can be used to extends a provider’s network into your environment.

What are the benefits of private LTE?

Private LTE allows you to improve connectivity in areas with limited Wi-Fi coverage. The benefits include:

  • Improved area coverage: Private LTE offers better coverage than wireless access points. Typically, you’ll need three to four wireless access points to reach the same coverage as one LTE device.
  • Extended carrier signals: Private LTE extends carrier signals, bringing AT&T and Verizon service into buildings where their signals might not otherwise reach.
  • Superior penetration: Using a different signal than Wi-Fi, private LTE can penetrate walls and barriers that Wi-Fi might have trouble with.
  • Enhanced reliability: It’s more reliable because it offers better penetration and coverage.
  • Increased security: You can create SIM-based authentication so only devices with the programmed SIM card can connect, reducing the need for passwords and increasing network security.
  • Potential cost savings: Because private LTE requires fewer access points than Wi-Fi, organizations can realize significant savings. A single Cisco CBRS access point, for example, is equipped for 128 active users, while 20 users should be the maximum for one Wi-Fi access point.

What businesses should consider private LTE?

Private LTE offers the most value for organizations with larger areas to cover. Additionally, companies that use facilities with barriers throughout will see improved coverage because of private LTE’s stronger penetration capabilities (it uses a gigahertz signal opposed to traditional Wi-Fi’s megahertz signal).

However, warehouses and industrial IoT aren’t the only use case for private LTE services. Since private LTE offers improved connection density, can be isolated from public networks, gives extended coverage (at least 10,000 square feet per access point), and is easily deployed, it can be helpful in other enterprises like:

  • Hospitality – Offer guests more consistent connectivity throughout a hotel
  • Public venues – Where Wi-Fi signals might be throttled by crowds, private LTE offer greater connection density
  • Universities – Let schools manage their own private networks and provide secure campus-wide communication for staff and students
  • Retail – Provide shoppers with improved mobile service in buildings that often suffer from connection issues
  • Stadiums – Give sports franchises security and control they need while providing increased connection density to a stadium full of fans

Questions that remain

Private LTE is an evolving product, and there’s still a lot to figure out.

It’s currently only 4G – with plans to move to 5G – and only indoor access points are available. There are also questions about how it’s going to be managed, whether carriers will have the capacity to cover all available devices, and what devices it’s going to support.

Still, when it comes to reliable wireless connectivity, private LTE is an exciting option that can be used as a replacement or in coordination with Wi-Fi.

If you have additional questions about private LTE, contact your SHI account executive.

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