Gigabit-Class LTE is a Critical Step on the Pathway to 5G and a Wireless WAN Future
With developments such as Gigabit-Class LTE and 5G on the minds of network administrators at businesses and first responder agencies across the globe, several key questions are arising over and over again, including:
- What is Gigabit-Class LTE?
- How does Gigabit-Class LTE compare to 4G LTE and 5G?
- How will Gigabit-Class LTE help my company?
- Should my business pursue Gigabit-Class LTE solutions or wait for 5G?
To understand what Gigabit-Class LTE is and why it matters for enterprise networking, it is essential to first recognize what 4G LTE has been and what 5G soon will be.
Gigabit-Class LTE vs. 4G LTE & 5G
In recent years, 4G LTE has developed into a key WAN source in network architectures of various shapes and sizes—including SD-WAN configurations. From failover, or secondary connectivity, to primary links and even multi-carrier scenarios, cellular-based broadband is a necessity across virtually every industry.
Carriers are now taking the spectrum used for 4G LTE and using new techniques to expand it into Gigabit-Class LTE networks; the result is theoretical speeds of at least 1 Gbps. Carriers are leveraging technologies that greatly increase spectrum efficiency, expand RF link capacity, and widen bandwidth.
- 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) — This technology allows more bits to flow through the available spectrum.
- 4×4 Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) — Splitting transmission across many antennas multiplies the capacity of an RF link.
- Carrier aggregation — Melding various pieces of licensed and unlicensed radio spectrum into one wider channel expedites the flow of data.
According to early estimates, Gigabit-Class LTE users will feature performance up to six times better than they experienced with 4G LTE. But how is Gigabit-Class LTE related to 5G? Gigabit-Class LTE and its essential technologies represent a foundational and underlying piece of 5G. In other words, both 4G LTE and Gigabit-Class LTE are critical components on the Pathway to 5G; many of the new technologies used to achieve higher performance for Gigabit-Class LTE are used in 5G as well.
How First Responders & Businesses Can Use Gigabit-Class LTE
Wireless use cases for business and public agencies will rapidly expand and evolve as Gigabit-Class LTE and then 5G become the norm. In the meantime, Gigabit-Class LTE will have an immediate impact on networking in various situations, including:
Live Video Surveillance for Law Enforcement
Video surveillance—both in vehicles and at fixed spots around town — is a critical M2M component of most law enforcement agencies’ networks, as it can help them save lives and capture suspects. Using the “store and forward” approach, many agencies have been using 4G LTE to send stored video footage to the cloud or headquarters only as needed.
Gigabit-Class LTE provides the bandwidth and speeds required to enable higher-quality footage and uninterrupted live streaming at critical times—whether first responders are sitting in an office or in their vehicles. Combined with dual-modem in-vehicle routers and nationwide public safety networks, Gigabit-Class LTE is helping officers respond during emergencies more swiftly—and with more information at their disposal—than ever before.
As 5G and unlimited data plans roll out, first responders will combine wireless, AR technology, and analysis software to leverage real-time facial and object recognition.
In businesses that can’t afford even a minute of network downtime—today that’s virtually every business—reliable failover connectivity is an absolute must. For example, today any business that does on-site Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions must have always-on Internet access. Organizations that try to use a second wired link for failover face a major problem whenever something goes wrong inside the trench where both those wires are buried or at the point where they enter the building.
Cellular-based broadband has been an ideal failover solution for years, and Gigabit-Class LTE will further increase the viability of this technology. As the speeds of primary wired links rise, secondary or failover wireless links need to keep pace. Instead of having to choose just a small handful of applications to prioritize as “essential” during failover incidents, the much faster speeds and greater throughput of Gigabit-Class LTE allow IT teams to keep a much larger share of their applications protected during a primary WAN outage.
Cutting the Wires at Fixed Locations
For organizations with a large amount of far-flung sites, networking challenges rapidly evolve—especially as the scope of connected devices and applications continues to grow. In recent years, many of these enterprises have transitioned from highly expensive MPLS to more affordable wired broadband—especially for SD-WAN configurations. However, even wired broadband can be difficult, complex, and time-consuming because it requires administrators to keep track of a different ISP in every region city or region, and it can take a long time to install. Some enterprises end up with hundreds of ISPs to keep tabs on and months of delays.
In response, many companies have been cutting the wires at some or all of their branch sites by deploying wireless as the primary connection. Transitioning to wireless WAN enables these organizations to substantially reduce their roster of service providers and total cost of ownership while boosting network availability.
With Gigabit-Class LTE available, even more companies can forego their wired link in favor of wireless WAN. For instance, Gigabit-Class LTE—and eventually 5G—will be a much more viable cut-the-wire option than 4G LTE for organizations that readily use a variety of latency-sensitive or high-bandwidth applications.
How Gigabit-Class LTE Will Lead to 5G
4G LTE and Gigabit-Class LTE will work together as part of 5G to enable a wireless WAN future. 5G, the fifth-generation wireless broadband technology, will be 10 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE and will enable the connection density to support billions of devices. Eventually, 5G will encompass a wide range of spectrums and technologies that will make it an essential tool for both fixed and mobile use cases.
In the meantime, Gigabit-Class LTE is the latest step on the pathway to 5G. Available in hundreds of markets and through all major cellular carriers, Gigabit-Class LTE speeds are nearing and sometimes surpassing those of wired broadband, but with the additional benefits of cellular, including fast deployment, excellent resiliency, broad availability, and the utmost flexibility.
Of course, organizations will need wireless edge solutions that make the value of cloud-managed Gigabit-Class LTE and 5G attainable and optimizable. They need a smooth pathway to 5G that will allow public safety agencies and businesses to connect more people, places, and things with greater speed, security, and reliability than ever before.
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