The Elastic Edge of today’s Connected Enterprise requires the wide-area network (WAN) to be more reliable, agile, scalable, automated and secure than ever. Cradlepoint’s software-defined network solutions enable the next-generation WAN for the Connected Enterprise
Excerpted From CNet
At this year’s CES you’ll hear plenty of talk about driverless cars, connected homes and the internet of things. (Yes, we promise IoT, perhaps the buzziest of tech trends, is more than just hackable baby monitors and $400 internet-connected juicers.)
Here’s the technology that will drive all of those innovations over the next decade: 5G.
The shorthand tag “5G” stands for fifth-generation wireless technology. Those broadbandlike wireless speeds you’re getting on your phone now? That’s 4G technology. So just think about what happens next.
If you’re excited about the prospects, you aren’t alone. Tech observers see 5G as the foundation for a host of other trends. At last year’s CES, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf described 5G as the biggest thing since the introduction of electricity.
Remember, a lot of work needs to be done for 5G to achieve broad scale. But with networks set to go live by 2019 and coverage reaching 20 percent of the population by 2023, now’s the time to start caring about it.
The lowdown on 5G
The brave new world of 5G isn’t just about speed. Sure, you can look forward to ridiculously high download speeds and bufferless 4K streaming. The real advantages, however, come down to three other things:
- Reliability: 5G doesn’t just deliver peak speeds in ideal conditions. The technology offers superhigh speeds that are reliable and consistent, even indoors or in congested areas.
- Bandwidth: 5G can support a massive increase in connected devices. Ericsson forecasts 1 billion 5G subscriptions by 2023. Think sensors on everything.
- Latency: Phones today have an annoying lag between when you send a request for a website or video and when the network responds. With 5G, that’ll be reduced to 1 millisecond. That’s 400 times faster than the blink of an eye. It’s so fast, some companies see it opening up the possibility of remote surgery.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is devoting his preshow keynote presentation to the data-driven future that 5G enables. Nokia and Ericsson will be on stage touting the new network technology. Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, has already been hitting the media circuit to talk up the tech.
While 5G remains an imprecise term today, key objectives for the development of the advances required have become clear. These are as follows:
- Enhanced throughput – As is the case with Wi-Fi, major advances in cellular are first and foremost defined by new upper-bound throughput numbers. The magic number here for 5G is in fact a floor of 1 Gbps, with numbers as high as 10 Gbps mentioned by some. However, and again as is the case with Wi-Fi, it’s important to think more in terms of overall individual-cell and system-wide capacity. We believe, then, that per-user throughput of 50 Mbps is a more reasonable – but clearly still remarkable – working assumption, with up to 300 Mbps peak throughput realized in some deployments over the next five years. The possibility of reaching higher throughput than that exceeds our planning horizon, but such is, well, possible.
- Reduced latency – Perhaps even more important than throughput, though, is a reduction in the round-trip time for each packet. Reducing latency is important for voice, which will most certainly be all-IP in 5G implementations, video, and, again, in improving overall capacity. The over-the-air latency goal for 5G is less than 10ms, with 1ms possible in some defined classes of service.
- Advances in management and OSS – Operators are always seeking to reduce overhead and operating expense, so enhancements to both system management and operational support systems (OSS) yielding improvements in reliability, availability, serviceability, resilience, consistency, analytics capabilities, and operational efficiency, are all expected. The benefits of these will, in most cases, however, be transparent to end-users.
- Increased mobility – Very-high-speed user mobility, to as much as hundreds of kilometers per hour, will be supported, thus serving users on all modes of transportation. Regulatory and situation-dependent restrictions – most notably, on aircraft – however, will still apply.
- Improved security – As security remains the one aspect of IT where no one is ever done, enhancements to encryption, authentication, and privacy are expected. It would not be surprising to see identity management (IDM) solutions along the lines of those now at work in many organizations available from at least a few carriers. Current IDM suppliers as well might be more than mildly interested in extending their capabilities to 5G services purchased by enterprises.
- New spectrum – It is expected that frequencies in the so-called millimeter-wave bands above 30GHz will see service in at least some 5G deployments. Both licensed and unlicensed spectrum at these frequencies is available in many parts of the world. MM wave frequencies are often appropriate to small cells since they require smaller and less obtrusive antennas, and the inherent signal directionality can multiply spectral efficiency. The core disadvantages for MM waves are less applicability to traditional larger cells along with poor object (e.g., buildings) penetration, but such can again be advantages in terms of frequency reuse. Regardless, more spectrum is required given the throughput and capacity objectives that justify 5G development and deployment – present spectral allocations will most certainly not suffice even with the ability to aggregate smaller blocks of spectrum.
- New enabling technologies – We expect to see higher-order MIMO implementations, sometimes described as “massive” with, for example, 16-64 streams, more aggressive modulation and channel coding, improved power-utilization efficiency, and related advances. Small cells will see frequent application, and the days of large cell towers may be numbered in more densely populated areas. Current trends otherwise at work in networks today, include SDN and NFV, will also see application in 5G, with much infrastructure implemented within cloud-based services. 5G will likely require no major advances in chip or manufacturing technologies, and device power consumption will likely benefit from more limited geographic range even as higher clock rates take a small toll here. Still, much work remains in terms of both technical and feasibility analysis as well as cost, but we see no showstoppers on the horizon. There is no danger of producing another WiMAX that offers marketing hype with no clear advantages over the previous generation, and the overall level of technical risk is low. Perhaps the greatest challenge is schedule slip, as the complex nature of the systems engineering that is required needs more time than many expect.
- Universal application support – 5G as a wireline replacement will have to support every class of traffic and every conceivable device, from broadcast-quality video distribution to telemetry, implantable medical devices, augmented and virtual reality, and advanced interactivity and graphics – and not just for gaming. The list also includes connected and autonomous cars, remotely-piloted vehicles (drones), public safety, building and municipal automation/monitoring/control, and disaster relief. including relocatable infrastructure with moving cells and support for dynamic wireless meshing. Also in the mix are robotics and IoT devices tolerant of limited data throughput and highly-variable latency. We expect literally tens of billions of 5G devices to be deployed over the next decade or so, so the scale of both the challenge and the demand is clear.
- Industry growth – Finally, carriers, operators, and equipment vendors of both infrastructure and subscriber devices simply require the deployment of new technologies with quantifiable end-user-visible benefits from time to time in order to continue to grow their businesses. New subscriber units alone cannot accomplish this goal.
In short, 5G is a business opportunity being designed and implemented to provide all of the communication capabilities and performance we expect from a wireline network. Getting to that point, given all of the requirements above, won’t be easy, quick, or inexpensive.
The Elastic Edge of today’s Connected Enterprise requires the wide-area network (WAN) to be more reliable, agile, scalable, automated and secure than ever. Cradlepoint’s software-defined network solutions enable the next-generation WAN for the Connected Enterprise.
Connected devices and the internet of things (IoT) – video, interactive screen, multimedia sharing, chat and bot interactions – are really what you need for the digital workplace.
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If you were running late in the 1980s, you either showed up late or found a payphone and called ahead; today, a quick text — “running late sorry” — does the trick. If you got lost driving in the 1980s, you drove on and on until you got un-lost or stopped at a gas station to ask for directions; today, you have GPS and Google Maps.
It was a different world back then. Today, we are years into a digital revolution. Mobile communication has forever changed the pattern and rhythm of our lives. Technological innovation has been basically nonstop, and it is still going strong. Much vaunted 5G networks, when they finally come online, will deliver super-low latency, impressively high throughput, and incredible connectivity.
Future-facing organizations are trying to predict what the true impact of 5G will be. The question many are asking right now — “Where is 5G, and how long until it can help us?” — is best answered without hype and hyperbole. 5G is coming but it’s not here quite yet.
Companies will pay for 5G
A recent Gartner survey of 200 IT and business leaders indicates that three-quarters of end-user organizations would be willing to pay more for 5G mobile network capabilities, with companies in the telecommunications space being the most willing. However, most companies appear to be struggling to understand 5G, and specifically its potential and its possible effects. A great majority (92 per cent) of organizations asked have no expectation that 5G will lead to a boost in revenues; rather, they look at 5G as a means of naturally evolving their mobile network.
Kinks and misunderstandings
While more than half of those surveyed by Gartner believe they will (or will be able to) use 5G’s enhanced capabilities to drive Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, 4G will be able to service the majority of IoT requirements for the next five years or so. Companies also appear to be laboring under a misapprehension that 5G will be at full capacity by 2020. In its white paper “State of 5G 2017 and Beyond,” cloud-based network solutions leader Cradlepoint makes it clear that the technology, while getting closer to the mark, is not yet there. In early trials, 5G is excellent for point-to-point, line-of-sight communications between antennas that don’t move. With NSA (Non Stand Alone) architecture and pre-3GPP specifications (adding mobility and interoperability capabilities), today’s 5G can get around interoperability, cell-site handoff, and mobility issues because these deployments are fixed. The data speeds are still tremendous, reaching several gigabits per second and keeping up with fiber speeds.
5G is coming soon
5G is still at least a few years away. In the meantime, organizations around the world are working to make it happen. When 5G finally comes — more than likely in the 2020 to 2022 range — it will be with the noise and fanfare befitting what will amount to a new technological era. On a human level, it stands to be an interesting time, with 5G carriers providing the kind of connectivity and speed and reliability that most in 2017 can only imagine. In everything from streaming video to online gaming to medical device connectivity, the 5G world will be an exciting one indeed.
Cradlepoint is the global leader in cloud-based network solutions for connecting people, places, and things over wired and wireless broadband—and is working with industry leaders to lead the way with 5G. Cradlepoint NetCloud is a software and services platform that extends the company’s 4G LTE-enabled multi-function routers and ruggedized M2M/IoT gateways with cloud-based management and Software-defined Network services.
by Chris Stevens, Cradlepoint
How to Address Common Barriers During the Router Rollout Process
Planning a network deployment is a complex process requiring coordination between many vendors and service providers. These challenges compound when the enterprise is under tight deadlines; often, deploying the network is the last thing stopping a company from opening a new location or launching a new revenue stream.
Whether in a mobile context or at a fixed location, there are several challenges that arise at every stage of network deployment — and there are next-generation ways to solve those challenges.
Deployment Planning Overview
To understand the challenges of network deployment, it’s worth briefly reviewing the deployment process. While each situation will play out with slight differences, the process generally follows these steps:
- Stage 1: Evaluating and vetting solutions
- Stage 2: Setting up equipment and provisioning connectivity
- Stage 3: Actual deployment
- Stage 4: Initial and ongoing monitoring
Evaluating & Vetting Network Solutions
For mobile contexts, or in cases when wired connectivity isn’t available (such as at a street kiosk) LTE generally is the connectivity source of choice. In fixed deployment situations, LTE connectivity might be utilized as failover for a wired network; some leading-edge companies are choosing to go completely wireless even when wired connectivity is available. In any of these situations, choosing the right LTE carrier can be tricky. In some cases, a site survey reveals that no available carrier can provide the level of reliability and service needed for the application in question.
Many of Cradlepoint’s routers offer dual-SIM or dual-modem functionality. Depending on your organization’s specific needs, it may be sufficient to choose a router with two SIM ports, with a single SIM activated at one time. In this case, the IT team can deactivate the primary SIM and activate the card for the secondary carrier, gaining a certain level of flexibility and redundancy without incurring the costs associated with utilizing two cellular data plans simultaneously.
On the other hand, it may be necessary to utilize two modems at once, whereby the router is constantly connected to two carriers, allowing for wireless-to-wireless failover and WAN redundancy. In this case, the switch from the primary carrier to the backup carrier takes place automatically and in mere seconds.
Often our customers come to us after having tried to put in place a solution that at the time appeared inexpensive and easy to deploy. Generally, when IT teams make their solution choices based only on how quickly they believe they can deploy the product in question, they actually end up slowing themselves down with solutions that are not future-proof and don’t last long.
For example, the engineer might not have thought ahead about the need for additional port capacity, or whether he or she might need power-over-Ethernet capability later. As the 2.4 GHz range becomes increasingly saturated, solutions that aren’t compatible with 5 GHz will need to be replaced. In mobile deployments, we sometimes come across enterprises that choose a solution but later realize they didn’t test it for interoperability with their GPS tracking (AVL) system.
Setting up Equipment & Provisioning Connectivity
Perhaps the most common headache when it comes to provisioning a new network is the task of getting wired broadband installed at a new location. Wired-line providers might take two or three months to install a new line once an internet service provider has been chosen and contacted.
Conversely, Cradlepoint routers allow companies to enjoy enterprise-grade connectivity on Day 1. Later in this post, we will cover some of the remote deployment and ease-of-use features that make this possible, but the mere fact that there’s no need to provision a wired line allows customers to seize business opportunities sooner.
Mobile use cases obviously are geared toward wireless connectivity rather than wired. These situations also call for careful consideration regarding how to power the wireless router. It’s important to factor this into planning timelines. For in-vehicle applications, it’s also critical to evaluate what sort of power conversion needs to take place to avoid power surges and eventual damage to the router. For more on this, review our Vehicle Best Practices Installation Guide.
When it’s time to install router at new locations, organizations typically have two choices: hire a third-party vendor to execute deployment, or send someone from the in-house IT team to the sites. Third-party vendors can be very expensive, while sending someone from the IT team means diverting valuable resources from other important projects. It’s usually critical that someone with technical expertise is on site, given that the routers must be configured and may need firmware updates.
Earlier in this post, we mentioned that Cradlepoint wireless routers enable Day-1 connectivity. Additionally, Cradlepoint’s Enterprise Cloud Manager — part of the Cradlepoint NetCloud platform — makes it possible to get routers up and running without sending anyone with technical expertise to those locations. It’s only necessary that whoever’s on site can plug the router in and turn it on. Back at headquarters, the IT team can load the router configuration, update firmware, and modify settings.
With Cradlepoint’s all-in-one routers, enterprises can use the same router to manage and monitor the wired connectivity once it is installed and ready to use.
Initial & Ongoing Monitoring
As with router installation, initial monitoring and troubleshooting typically requires a third-party vendor. Companies that use Enterprise Cloud Manager, however, can handle manage, monitor and troubleshoot networks in house, even if the IT team is small and stretched thin.
Thanks to the cloud-based management platform’s real-time alerting and reporting, IT teams can be notified of issues as soon as they arise — sometimes even before customers or on-site staff notice anything is wrong. Further, if a Cradlepoint router is being utilized as a failover router, its Out-of-Band Management capability allows organizations to see beyond the Cradlepoint device to remotely diagnose problems and repair the primary router, too.