Technology & Innovation

The biggest myths about 4G in the enterprise

By Todd Krautkremer, CMO at Cradlepoint
Technology & Innovation
Published: 20 June 2018

4G LTE is becoming widely adopted throughout the enterprise. 60% of IT decision makers from more than 100 enterprises stated they were already deploying 4G LTE in a recent study. 4G LTE adoption is also driving an increase in wide-area network (WAN) flexibility, reliability, security and cost-effectiveness.

When it comes to branch, mobile, and IoT realms, LTE is becoming an essential technology for the WAN infrastructure. The proliferation of IoT, cloud, and SaaS applications means there is no choice but to have always-on Internet connectivity. This is causing a fundamental change in the way we design enterprise networks.

Regardless, there are still uncertainties – as with any new technology – about implementing an increasingly wireless WAN. Let’s debunk these myths about LTE in the enterprise to help organisations see it’s a viable option for connectivity at any level.

1. Signal wanes in rural areas
When was the last time you couldn’t get any signal on your mobile? Whether in a major city or in the middle of a Kent strawberry farm, chances are you will have a few bars of signal. If it’s possible to make a clear and reliable call on your mobile phone, then it’s possible to deploy an LTE data connection. There are a number of organisations inside and outside of major cities that have ‘cut the cord’ completely and gone fully wireless, with LTE providing faster and more reliable connections than the available wired options. Seeing enterprises make this kind of shift shows that wireless WANs are no longer an anomaly, but a definite trend.

2. 4G LTE is an expensive option
Not so long ago, going over your mobile data plan and getting charged for the additional data used was a common occurrence. Not anymore. With unlimited and rollover plans, people are using more data than ever and have more gigabytes to burn. The same trend is happening in business data plans. The ability to pool and share data across all 4G LTE connections is all but eliminating the anxiety of exceeding monthly data allowances.

Now, more help is on the way. Many data providers are providing flat rate business data plans that work just as wired providers do; pick a bandwidth and pay the same amount every month, regardless of usage. This is where SD-WAN solutions can make a positive impact to business. These are specifically designed to make application traffic steering decisions in branch and mobile networks between wired and wireless links, or even multiple 4G LTE links from different network providers. This is done based on data plan consumption across an enterprise’s WAN and across carriers.

3. Wired networks are more reliable
It is rare that calls disconnect mid-conversation, whether you’re chatting standing still or on the move. That’s because network providers are constantly upgrading and densifying their networks to deliver more speed and reliability to meet the mobile application performance demands and expectations of consumers. What’s good for consumers is great for businesses. Those that have switched to 4G LTE report better reliability than wired connections and many experience better performance.

One final thought on reliability: 4G LTE is resilient to weather and cannot be dug up by diggers (or rodents!). In times of freak weather such as flooding, wired infrastructure to homes and businesses becomes submerged and out of service. Deploying 4G LTE branch network solutions allows businesses to be up and running and back online in days, not weeks.

4. 4G LTE networks are easy to hack
We’re all aware of the horror stories about hackers sniffing around public WiFi networks and breaking into unsuspecting users’ computers. 4G LTE connections are completely different. Service providers use private virtual networks over LTE, called Access Point Networks (APNs). An APN uses a private address space to isolate enterprise traffic across the LTE network and provide an authentication layer to prevent unauthorised access. It also can provide IP-layer encryption and allows for dedicated gateways to securely connect the APN to data centres.