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The high cost of downtime


Why is failover important? To reduce the amount and cost of unexpected downtime

A tree falls in high winds. A snowstorm sweeps into town. A backhoe digs a little too far to the left. Lightning strikes a telephone pole. Floodwaters inundate city streets. All of these acts of nature (or of humans) threaten business continuity. When a business loses its Internet connections, it loses revenue — and a whole lot more. Gartner estimates that every hour of Internet downtime typically costs enterprise organizations in the neighborhood of $300,000. In addition to an immediate hit on revenue from Point-of-Sale system failure, other costs can include: 

  • Non-PCI compliance, which can leave businesses open to security risks and fraud.
  • Inoperable inventory management systems, which can bring operations to a halt.
  • Inability to sync cloud-based applications for communications, security and data storage.
  • The need for IT truck rolls, and dependence on cable company repair schedules.
  • Damage to brand reputation and loyalty, which can lead to further loss of revenue.

Don’t let your organization be a statistic. Having a business continuity plan in place is imperative for todays distributed enterprise.

American Apparel plays it Safe with Wireless 4G Failover

Based in Los Angeles and with more than 280 stores located in the United States, Europe, China, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia. American Apparel has taken steps to make sure that none of its stores’ Internet connections goes down—ever. 

Each American Apparel location needs PCI-compliant Internet access to process credit card transactions, conduct time management tasks, provide email communications, and manage inventory control.

Osvaldo Hurtado, American Apparel’s Director of Store IT Infrastructure, says the company has installed Cradlepoint Routers in its stores to deliver 99.99% uptime for its store networks using wireless as a failover solution. Primary Internet service providers offer only a 99.5% availability standard, which equals about 4 hours of downtime a month—or as much as $1,200,000 in lost revenue. With Cradlepoint’s “four-nines” 4G LTE availability, Hurtado can measure Internet downtime by seconds or minutes, not by hours.

“The Cradlepoint device is carrier agnostic and works with just about any carrier network available, giving our stores a wireless failover solution if they go offline. If the Internet connection is down, our stores aren’t able to perform many of their daily operations, putting them in a very frustrating position. With the Cradlepoint, I can get the store up and operational within minutes,” said Osvaldo Hurtado, American Apparel’s Director of Store IT Infrastructure.

By using Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager, Hurtado and his team can remotely manage all 280 of its routers over the network. NetCloud Manager enables American Apparel’s IT department to identify devices whether they are offline or online, configure and upgrade routers automatically, and configure individual routers or groups of routers—all from one unified dashboard. That’s failover and management for distributed enterprises made easy.

3 failover choices and tips for finding the best solution 

Generally speaking, there are three options for increasing Internet availability, decreasing downtime, and addressing the problem of having just a single connection to your network:

Technology Upgrade

One of the greatest acronyms ever coined has got to be POTS: Plain Old Telephone Service. Neither POTS nor another common Internet-access solution, ISDN (Integrated Services for Digital Network), offer enough bandwidth or reliability to run mission-critical applications. By upgrading from Ethernet, DSL, or cable to T1 lines, enterprises can increase Internet availability and reduce downtime from an average of 4 hours to about 15 minutes per month (no small thing with enterprise downtime loses estimated to be as high as $300,00 per hour). The problem is that T1 offers just about the same amount of bandwidth as DSL or cable—for a larger cost per month, and it doesn’t address the redundancy issue. 

Wired Redundancy 

For obvious reasons, having two lines buried in the same trench or strung between poles doesn’t provide much in the way of failover either. The cost to distributed enterprises of adding wired redundancy to hundreds (or thousands) of locations can be prohibitive. Furthermore, for each location IT must wait until the local DSL or cable provider has time run the wires. In other words, even the largest enterprises become dependent on other, often much smaller, companies’ abilities to effectively schedule installations.

LTE Failover

Not surprisingly, we think LTE provides the most reliable solution with the greatest uptime, the most competitive price, and the highest bandwidth. When evaluating a wireless solution for your business continuity needs, there are three things to consider:

1. Does the solution offer simple, scalable deployment, maintenance, and control over hundreds or thousands of distributed locations?
Truck rolls to fix IT problems are expensive and so is having trained IT staff at each location. Distributed enterprises need network connectivity solutions that are simple enough for untrained personnel to set up, but that are backed up by central configuration, monitoring, and control. Central control is particularly helpful when the solution is for failover protection because it enables highly trained IT staff to monitor and balance data usage for maximum return on investment.

2. Does the router integrate with existing network infrastructure or provide an all-in-one solution to replace current router and modem setups?
Enterprises seeking “overlay failover,” a drop-in solution that meshes with the existing wired primary connection, should seek an IP pass-through solution with the ability to convert broadband signal to Ethernet.

3. Does the solution enable various network security architectures such as Virtual Private Networking (VPN), cloud-based security, network segmentation, and/or parallel networks?
Enterprises in general have come under increased threat from hackers. Because distributed enterprises frequently transmit highly sensitive POS data without security trained IT personal on site, remote locations may see even more attacks as hackers increasingly view them as “soft” targets.

As with the primary network, the business continuity solution should be optimized for maximum security and PCI compliance so that a primary network outage does not constitute a security risk. Finally, an ideal failover solution should have the flexibility to merge with the enterprise’s existing security architecture. 

Learn more about wireless failover strategies from our white paper.