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How Does Private Cellular Work? Explore Ways to Set Up a Wide-Area LAN

Donna Johnson

Enterprises choose private industrial networks for wireless edge connectivity in huge place where Wi-Fi isn’t a good option

Having a flexible and reliable wide-area LAN is essential for businesses that operate in warehouses, shipping ports, convention centers and other large-scale venues. Wi-Fi is no longer cutting it as more devices used on the day-to-day job require Internet access with nonstop connectivity.

Private LTE technology is an option that provides a high-performance network in large areas with less equipment than Wi-Fi and lower network costs than public LTE. The market for Private Cellular Networks (PCN) is growing quickly as organizations with large-scale locations realize Wi-Fi sometimes cannot support the performance, coverage, reliability, Quality-of-Service, and security they need.

How does Private LTE and 5G work?

Private LTE and Private 5G provide a network through a wireless broadband connection that is a scaled down version of a public cellular network. This type of network is ideal for organizations that are not well supported currently by Wi-Fi or public LTE networks.

The architecture that supports Wireless LAN consists of routers, small cells or radios, a management system, an evolved packet core, and a spectrum allocation server when using the shared spectrum called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the U.S. That’s the “what,” but who operates a Private LTE for business network? Either a third-party network provider, a traditional mobile operator, or an enterprise. Deciding which provider to go with depends on the type of spectrum and level of private management an enterprise requires. In many cases an enterprise will operate its own PCN by using shared spectrum.

The Limitations of Wi-Fi

What are the benefits of Private LTE vs. Wi-Fi? Connectivity and real-time data sharing between high-bandwidth sensors, applications, and IoT devices is a necessity for modern business and can’t be constrained to small areas. Wi-Fi’s biggest limitation is providing a reliable, low-cost, and secure network on a large scale.

Traditional LAN installments cost a lot yet are inconsistent. The expense of laying down fiber and installing the amount of Wi-Fi access points needed across a large space is not something all businesses or government agencies can afford. A Wireless LAN infrastructure that consists of micro towers and small cells is a cost-effective alternative to traditional Wi-Fi as those cells can cover more area than a typical Wi-Fi access point.

Conventional Wi-Fi access points also aren’t stable or robust enough to keep up with the increasing technological standards for large-scale business. Devices such as high-definition surveillance cameras, employees’ mobile phones, and wireless robotic equipment can switch between access points, but Wi-Fi can be susceptible to spectrum noise and interference from obstacles and walls. Private LTE and 5G provide the option of prioritizing certain traffic types to provide low latency and high Quality-of-Service.

Businesses that span large areas need a network with more security than just a standard username and password. Instead, additional layers are needed to protect highly sensitive information. PCN deployments include SIM cards and edge networking that can require a PIN for connectivity. This provides a secondary authentication that Wi-Fi does not provide to protect an enterprise from hackers.

While many of these advantages can be achieved using public LTE networks, Private LTE can use shared or unlicensed spectrum, which means that there is no charge for data usage. Bandwidth heavy deployments such as video surveillance can achieve significant savings by using their own network.

Examples of Private LTE

Take a closer look at the evolution of Wi-Fi through wide-area LAN from this webinar.


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