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In the details: what you need to know about the first 5G edge solutions for business

James Weaver

Exploring the technical details of Cradlepoint’s W-Series 5G Wideband Adapters

You’re probably not the only person asking, “What is 5G wideband, and why should I care?” It’s a good question, and the answer could change how your organization does business.

In 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission increased the minimum download definition for broadband to 25 Mbps. By that time, 4G LTE had already crossed that performance barrier, and businesses were deploying new wireless broadband use cases such as wireless failover, mobile health services, and remote video monitoring.

In 2019, as 5G began to roll out, the word “wideband” started to emerge as a term that aligns with 5G. Although, strictly speaking, wideband is defined as a transmission medium whose bandwidth is wider than one voice channel, the term is becoming generalized to mean high-performance wireless broadband.

So, why even bring this up? Well, Cradlepoint announced a comprehensive 5G portfolio for business with, you guessed it, 5G wideband adapters.

Cradlepoint 5G Product Family image

Cradlepoint W-Series 5G Wideband Adapters with NetCloud Service and the Verify application

5G: This Isn’t Your Father’s Wireless

Delivering wideband performance is not as easy as just virtually widening a 4G pipe. There are fundamental technical differences between 4G and 5G, and edge networking solutions have to accommodate those differences while mitigating complexity for organizations. So, what is so different about 5G wideband adapters?

First, let’s start with form factors. As you may know, one of the ways that 5G fo business improves performance is through the use of new spectrum. As 5G taps into Sub-6 and mmWave spectrums, propagation characteristics drop significantly. To compensate for this, Cradlepoint’s W-Series Wideband Adapters can be located independently from the router. For instance, the Cradlepoint W2000 Indoor Wideband Adapter can be wall or ceiling mounted in an ideal position to the closest 5G tower, ensuring optimal performance.

Cradlepoint W2000 Wideband Adapter

Cradlepoint Indoor W2000 Wideband Adapter

To achieve optimal performance in more challenging situations, Cradlepoint also announced an outdoor model. The Cradlepoint W2005 Wideband Adapter offers the same functionality and features as the W2000 but is designed to be placed outside for even better signal acquisition. The hardened W2005 outdoor unit is made of metal with an IP67 rating.

Cradlepoint Outdoor W2005 Wideband Adapter

Cradlepoint Outdoor W2005 Wideband Adapter

Another unique capability of 5G is “dual connectivity,” officially known as ENDC (E-UTRAN New Radio). With dual connectivity, both 5G and 4G connections are established and passing data at the same time. Not only does dual connectivity mean that data connections are additive leading to more bandwidth, but if a 5G signal gets weak, there is no reconnection delay; it is already connected to the 4G network and data will continue to transmit with no interruption.

Averting Complexity

One of the great virtues of Cradlepoint’s edge networking portfolio has been its all-in-one form factor, where the modem is embedded in the Cradlepoint router. With 5G, where the modem and router are physically separate, endpoint management could effectively double. Cradlepoint has solved this dilemma by featuring something called “captive mode.” When paired with a Cradlepoint 5G Ready wireless edge router, the wideband adapter and router appear and function within NetCloud platform like an integrated modem, simplifying deployment and management while reducing licensing costs for the pair.

Cradlepoint router and adapter appear as a single unit in NetCloud

Cradlepoint router and adapter appear as a single unit in NetCloud

5G Wideband Adaptors and SD-WAN

If an organization wishes to keep its current edge routing or SD-WAN infrastructure, the Cradlepoint wideband adapters can easily fit into these architectures. The 5G network will appear as another WAN link to the router or in the SD-WAN system, effectively adding enterprise-class 5G connectivity. The adapter will still be manageable through NetCloud, providing full visibility into the 5G network and quality of experience.

Our existing customers that are using one of the Cradlepoint 5G Ready routers can add a 5G link as well by using Ethernet to connect one of the 5G Wideband Adaptors to that router.

Cradlepoint also understands that many of its customers are deploying adapters in tens of thousands of locations, often with 3rd party or non-technical personnel. Cradlepoint’s Verify application is a wizard-based mobile application that will help the installer optimally position the adapter and confirm that everything is set up correctly. This process helps organizations reduce truck rolls while ensuring top performance of their applications.

As a final note, both the W2000 and W2005 will go into trials with Telstra customers in Australia beginning in April. As one of the most mature 5G networks in the world, Telstra has deployed 5G in the Sub-6 spectrum (3.5 GHz) in all major cities, making Telstra and Australia an excellent fit for trials and launch.

For reference, here is a review of the features mentioned above, as well as a partial listing of capabilities that were not covered.

Key Features:

  • Stylized indoor or hardened outdoor models
  • Mobile wizard-based installation application
  • “Captive modem mode” with Cradlepoint router
  • 5G+4G dual connectivity (ENDC)
  • Support for SA (Standalone) 5G NR
  • 5G tools & value confirmation in NetCloud
  • Adaptive to any SD-WAN or router environment
  • Zero-touch deployment & Day-1 wireless
  • Advanced remote management suite
  • Deep wireless analytics assisted by machine learning
  • 5G tools & value confirmation built into the NetCloud platform
  • Cloud-managed for ease of deployment, remote management & reporting
  • Carrier-class connectivity with multiple levels of test & recovery

What Now? Learn About 5G Solutions at the Edge

Get the details on Cradlepoint’s announcement about its comprehensive portfolio of 5G for business solutions.

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