Frost & Sullivan Validates the Rise of the Wireless WAN and 5G for Business

James Weaver

Concept of LTE and 5G as WAN gains momentum as firm bestows Cradlepoint with the 2020 Global 5G Wireless Wide-Area Network Solutions Product Leadership Award


Is wireless wide-area networking (WWAN) another technology trend that garners buzz might not ever come to fruition? Not likely. Not according to Frost & Sullivan. The reason? Well, certainly 5G is a factor. But also, it’s because the WAN edge has expanded further and faster than most people could have imagined.

Rise of Vehicles and IoT on the WAN

Frost & Sullivan recently reported that WWAN for enterprise is a new market segment — led by Cradlepoint, which was recognized with Frost & Sullivan’s 2020 Global 5G Wireless Wide Area Network Solutions Product Leadership Award — that “goes beyond connecting branches.” While WAN has long been a fixture in fixed location vernacular, WAN is no longer just about each branch being connected to a larger corporate network. Here’s what Frost & Sullivan stated about the rapid increase of organizations connecting vehicles to a WAN:

“There are an increasing number of mobile ‘locations’ that need to connect to a WAN; examples include field service employees and their vehicles, pop-up retail locations, or public safety personnel such as police officers and their vehicles. Because these connections move, a wireless connection is essential. The technologies that enable these wireless connections are primarily 4G LTE and 5G NR.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or perhaps a traditional data center, you’ve likely heard lots about another rampant trend: widespread IoT deployments. Most organizations are introducing an array of IoT devices and applications to solve many different problems and improve efficiency. In fact, 89% of IT decision-makers are using or considering using LTE or 5G to connect IoT, according to IDC survey results from The State of Wireless WAN 2020 Report.

By definition, an organization that is using LTE or 5G as the primary link in some or all of its fixed locations and also in vehicles and for IoT is utilizing WWAN. It’s an exciting step in the evolution of network architecture — and it’s about to get an unprecedented boost from a well-publicized technology.

5G’s Unprecedented Impact on the WAN

The evolution of the enterprise network edge certainly has a lot to do with the onset of WWAN. However, it’s 5G’s arrival that will accelerate WWAN more quickly than many expected. 5G’s much-anticipated business benefits are presenting network administrators with an important decision to make — wired or wireless WAN? — in scenarios where wired used to be the clear-cut choice. In branch stores and offices, for example, the flexibility of wireless connectivity combined with 5G’s faster speeds, lower latency, and more bandwidth provide an enticing option.

“The speed of 4G in some areas have increased enough that some fixed locations may now weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using a wireless WAN connection as the primary connection (and perhaps the backup connection with a different wireless service provider.) As the availability of 5G increases, WWAN becomes even more compelling,” according to Frost & Sullivan.

Businesses seem to agree, as 67% of IT decision-makers are either confident or very confident 5G will deliver the promised business benefits within the next year, according to The State of Wireless WAN 2020 Report.

Next Steps for WWAN?

Switching from MPLS and other traditional wired options to WWAN may be a new concept for some. Organizations should consider several key factors during the decision-making process, as outlined here by Frost & Sullivan:

  • How do costs compare for installation and for ongoing operation?
  • Who provides the wired or wireless service? Are there choices? Do these same providers operate in all the areas that need coverage?
  • How many wired broadband providers does it take to cover my distributed WAN? Cellular is unique in its ability to cover the US and even global footprints with just a few wireless operators vs. 10’s or even 100’s of wired ISPs.
  • Do both options cover technical needs (download speeds, upload speeds, reliability, etc.)?

You can learn more about WAN’s evolution and the arrival of WWAN in Frost & Sullivan’s award report.

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