These 5 factors will make or break your organization’s 5G future
Step aside, 5G for consumers. 5G for business is ready for its closeup, as today Cradlepoint announced the first comprehensive portfolio of 5G edge networking solutions for business.
At Cradlepoint, we know that a lot of customers are eager to get their hands on the capabilities of 5G deployments for enterprises. However, we also know that businesses will not yield their enterprise standards for security, reliability, and manageability. In short, they don’t want to rely on consumer-grade technology or narrowly focused point solutions. They need solutions built with business in mind. Cradlepoint believes that the network edge vendor community must deliver on the following 5G imperatives to fully meet business’ expectations.
Imperative 1: A full range of cellular technologies
Because the 5G rollout is occurring in stages, 4G LTE, Gigabit-Class LTE, and 5G will all be used simultaneously for some time. As network operators seek to monetize their 5G deployment investment as quickly as possible, they need enterprises to deploy the latest technology as soon as it becomes available. Often having thousands of locations, enterprises need the confidence to manage various technologies in different sites without complexity. They also want to purchase solutions today that will be ready for 5G tomorrow.
A retailer may have thousands of existing sites running 4G LTE because Gigabit-Class LTE and 5G are currently unavailable. Then, they may have thousands of other locations that have just upgraded to Gigabit-Class LTE to supplement bandwidth. And then, they may have tens of sites that have deployed 5G solutions that are entirely wireless.
An enterprise-class wireless WAN platform must allow organizations to quickly deploy and manage tens of thousands of sites — all with different cellular generations in one solution with high visibility and security.
Imperative 2: Support for the entire 5G spectrum
As a matter of strategy, network operators are deploying 5G services across multiple spectrum bands, including high band (mmWave), mid band (Sub-6), and low band (Sub-2). As network operators make these diverse investments, they need confidence that an edge networking vendor can deploy within any spectrum band. Enterprises with numerous locations want the flexibility to deploy the latest wireless technologies on a by-site basis. Further, they are uninterested in limited or locked-in technology.
A financial institution may want to go all wireless by deploying a mmWave 5G service in its larger metropolitan branches and a Sub-6 5G service in its suburban branches. In the near term, the company may run a failover application on low-band 4G or 5G in rural locations.
A Wireless WAN platform built for business should not only offer solutions for all three spectrum bands but also should manage tens of thousands of endpoints in a contemporary point-and-click interface.
Imperative 3: Complete lifecycle management
The requirements to run a business on 5G are very different from the needs of consumers. Network operators have invested heavily in creating reliable, high-performing networks. They want to ensure that edge networking vendors can deliver an enterprise-class experience for business users. Enterprises will only entrust a wireless network with their business after they have experienced performance and reliability. They also must have clear visibility and control from installation to troubleshooting.
An IT pro installing a 5G solution, particularly mmWave, knows that the positioning of a 5G adapter during installation will affect signal acquisition and, therefore, network performance. They understand that the more endpoints under management, the higher the complexity. Further, they believe that having the right analytical tools is critical — first to avoid issues, and then for troubleshooting.
An enterprise-class Wireless WAN platform should offer full lifecycle management capabilities that include:
- A mobile wizard-based installation application that ensures the deployment is fully operational and that the wireless adapters are positioned for optimal signal acquisition. The application reduces guesswork and minimizes expensive truck rolls.
- "Captive modem" capability that recognizes the router and adapter as one device delivering singular control and dramatically improving deployment and management time.
- Deep wireless analytics and tools that provide visibility and alerts about modem health, metered billing, security, and service value, thereby improving uptime and quality of service.
- Out-of-Band Management that uses the Wireless WAN connection to troubleshoot the router or any IP addressable device behind the router, thereby mitigating emergency truck rolls.
Imperative 4: Carrier-class connectivity
Obtaining 5G carrier-class connectivity is about far more than attaching a 5G wireless adapter to a device. Network operators are constantly innovating so businesses will trust their 5G connection as much as their 4G connection. Enterprises are unwilling to trade an inconsistent connectivity experience for the higher performance of 5G. They want both carrier-class connectivity and high performance.
Although each operator conforms to 3GPP standards, they implement those standards differently to gain optimal efficiency and performance from their network. Separately, software from modem manufacturers is designed to serve multiple operators within broad markets.
An enterprise-class Wireless WAN vendor should use its deep network operator relationships to tailor unique software-defined modem versions for each operator's requirements and capabilities to maximize connection performance. Additionally, during operation, the vendor's platform should execute multilevel integrity tests to predict vulnerable connections. Further, the vendor should preprogram SIMs and endpoints before shipping and use auto-configuration utilities to ensure a low-touch installation and that an optimal connection is established.
Imperative 5: Intelligent hybrid WAN connectivity
Although many IT pros may view wired and wireless edge platforms as distinctly different systems, the success of SD-WAN is changing that mindset. Most network operators offer both wired and wireless services and want both to be viable services for network users. Business continuity and SD-WAN has demonstrated to enterprises the value of wireless broadband links, and the 5G rollout has only accelerated their interest.
An enterprise may choose to add wireless to its existing SD-WAN platform. This "wired-first" SD-WAN solution would have minimal control over potentially thousands of wireless adapters. Or, an enterprise may choose to implement a "wireless-first" SD-WAN solution with robust wireless capabilities but with little or no wired SD-WAN capabilities.
A wireless WAN platform built for business should mitigate the tradeoffs of mixed wired and wireless environments. A point-and-click platform should make it easy to manage thousands of wireless adapters in a wired-first SD-WAN environment. All the while, the platform should provide optimized wireless SD-WAN and foundational wired SD-WAN capabilities in a wireless-first SD-WAN deployment.
As network edge vendors meet the criteria of the 5G imperatives, both enterprises and network operators will benefit. Network operators more quickly realize a return on investment, and assimilate customer feedback as they incrementally deploy their services. Enterprises immediately improve operations and create revenue opportunities on a site-by-site basis without worrying about the manageability of a large hybrid network.
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.