Today, it was announced that “AT&T and Cradlepoint to Provide the First Step on the Path to 5G for First Responders and Businesses.”This new partnership with AT&T, centered on Cradlepoint’s new Gigabit-Class LTE solutions for branch and mobile, represents a big step forward in our Pathway to 5G strategy. For AT&T, the partnership provides a fast, secure and reliable wireless edge solution for their 5G Evolution (5GE) and public safety networks.
More importantly, the introduction of the industry’s first wireless edge solutions with Gigabit-Class LTE connectivity represents a big step forward in the realization of a wireless WAN future. As is the case with AT&T 5GE, carriers are deploying LTE Advanced Pro networks with wireless access speeds approaching – and in some instances exceeding – that of wired broadband while delivering the rapid deployment, resiliency, and pervasiveness qualities of cellular.
Since 5G networks are designed to coexist with and not replace LTE, carriers are evolving their LTE networks to prepare for this convergence. In fact, many of the foundational technologies of 5G — such as wideband connectivity, gigabit speeds, and greater spectrum efficiency — are part of the LTE Advanced Pro network upgrades that are well underway. However, if wireless edge solutions do not evolve in lockstep with these upgrades, customers will not be able to realize the value and will be faced with a disruptive upgrade path to 5G in the future.
Our motivation behind the new partnership with AT&T is simple. Collaboration between the wireless network and edge is essential to paving a graceful pathway to 5G and delivering a wireless WAN future. In my conversations with IT executives across the country, it’s clear that we are on the cusp of a transition from wired to wireless in the WAN in much the same way that campus and branch LANs transitioned to wireless over the last decade. The proliferation of IoT devices and the increase in mobile and in-vehicle networks are certainly reasons for this transition, but the adoption of SD-WAN is another surprisingly big driver.
As organizations deploy SD-WAN to take advantage of the faster speeds and better “bang for the bit” of wired broadband,”they are experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) they have to manage. Some customers I’ve talked to have had to stitch together tens or even hundreds of ISPs to achieve a nationwide SD-WAN footprint – trading in one expensive challenge for another.
In response, we have several customers “cutting the cord” and deploying wireless as the primary connection across some or all of their branch sites. In one particular instance, a customer reduced its service providers from more than 100 ISPs down to two wireless carriers while gaining better nationwide coverage and higher availability. Another SD-WAN-related driver is direct cloud access at the branch, which demands the nonstop WAN connectivity that cellular uniquely provides. Also, as primary wired links approach gigabit speeds, secondary or failover wireless links need to deliver gigabit-class speeds as well.
In 2018, the debate on whether 5G will happen or not was finally put to bed. In the wake of successful trials, initial 5G rollouts have begun and carriers are deep into the deployment of their evolutionary LTE networks. Case in point is AT&T 5GE. Customers already are planning new applications and ways to leverage the transformative capabilities that 5G will enable. This anticipation is giving rise to the issue of future-proofing the WAN for 5G — a topic that is coming up more often in my conversations with public safety and business IT leaders who are anxious to take advantage of 5G when and where it becomes available.
If you think about it, the average WAN depreciation cycle is five to seven years. In that time frame, 5G will be widely deployed within major metro areas. Providing a graceful “Pathway to 5G” for our customers is core to Cradlepoint’s strategy and plays a central role in our new relationship with AT&T.
Today’s announced partnership between Cradlepoint and AT&T represents a big step forward in helping AT&T public safety and business customers connect more people, places, and things with greater speed, security, and reliability than ever before. It is also a big step forward in delivering on our Elastic Edge vision that paves a Pathway to 5G and a wireless WAN future.
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