What to consider when selecting a Wireless LAN solution for your business
Whether you operate on a college campus, in a convention center, at a shipping port, or in a warehouse, a secure, flexible, and reliable wireless connectivity solution is paramount to the day-to-day functions of large-scale sites. Because Wireless LAN solutions provide the connectivity to keep businesses running, it’s important to examine the return on investment when deciding between Wi-Fi and Private Cellular Networks (PCNs).
Wireless LAN infrastructures for business
Understanding the differences between Wi-Fi as LAN and PCNs that leverage Private LTE and 5G is an important piece of the puzzle when choosing an effective Wireless LAN solution.
Wi-Fi as LAN
Using radio frequencies to send signals between access points, Wi-Fi is considered a “best effort” connection, meaning although it’s readily available, users on a Wi-Fi network are vying for priority, with no guarantee of speed or quality of data delivery. For example, if one user attempts to stream live video over a Wi-Fi connection, their activity can impede the ability of other users to complete data-heavy tasks, which can cause operational problems if those tasks are mission-critical. Wi-Fi also is prone to interference, making it a largely unreliable connection.
In addition to its unreliable nature, Wi-Fi typically only employs a username and password for security vs. the layers of security policies that can be enabled through a PCN, which can lead to detrimental security breaches.
Private Cellular Networks
How does a Private Cellular Network work? A PCN is a scaled-down version of a public cellular network, using the same 3GPP protocols and standards supporting mobility. Compared to Wi-Fi, Private 5G and LTE networks are more secure and scalable. Additionally, their faster speeds and lower latency can support the quality of service and prioritization needed for large businesses.
Private 5G and Private LTE networks provide a secure, highly customizable coverage solution for large areas, including outdoor locations that may not have access to public cellular networks. Private 5G and LTE are delivered via macro radios and small cells using licensed, unlicensed, or shared spectrum, including the 3.5GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS spectrum) in the U.S. Through carrier aggregation, unlicensed spectrum can also be combined with carrier-owned spectrum to increase bandwidth to suit customer needs.
Learn more about how Private Cellular Networks are revolutionizing wireless LAN in our PCN white paper.
Cost benefits of a Private Cellular Network
When it comes to a secure, dependable, low-cost Wireless LAN solution, Private Cellular Networks excel at supporting business and mission-critical applications and are better suited to meet the needs of companies eager to minimize infrastructure expenditures.
Not only does the use of Private 5G and LTE eliminate the need to install wired lines, but an outdoor macrocell supporting a PCN can reach up to one square mile compared to the 10,000-foot reach of a Wi-Fi access point, resulting in significant hardware cost savings to provide long-range coverage. PCN users can also store high-bandwidth content on-site, reducing the costs associated with data that doesn’t need to leave the area vs. the same scenario on a public network.
Even when considering small cell or tower deployment costs and recurring costs cloud management platforms like Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager, most companies who opt to utilize a PCN vs. Wi-Fi as LAN will achieve a positive return on investment within 2-3 years, especially when using CBRS spectrum. This is accomplished through the natural benefits of Private Cellular and further leveraging the network by expanding outside of the anchor use case that initially drove the deployment.
Other considerations for the cost of Private 5G and LTE
With the promise of higher bandwidth, lower latency, and safe, reliable performance, companies are increasingly seeing the value of Private 5G and Private LTE networks to make their business more agile. If you’re still on the fence about which wireless LAN solution may be best for your business, consider the following:
- Is your company struggling to manage data overages from traditional cellular carriers?
- Is your budget constrained by the cost of networking, security, or infrastructure expenditures?
- Do you currently or plan to use data-intensive applications such as video surveillance that requires high speeds and low latency?
- Does your business operate in places that do not currently have public cellular coverage?
- Would a data breach or lack of network connectivity result in profit loss?
- Have you evaluated your long-term strategy for wireless including 4G LTE and 5G?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, it may be time to consider implementing a Private 5G or LTE network.