One reason why Wi-Fi has become so popular in the enterprise over the past few decades is that it allowed for the deployment of devices in areas where cabling was difficult or cost-prohibitive to run. However, there are also plenty of real-world situations where Wi-Fi might also come up short, across manufacturing sites, outdoor shipping yards, mobile robot powered warehousing facilities and other challenging environments that require low latency connectivity.
This often puts network administrators in a difficult situation. As businesses continue to come up with technology use cases that require connectivity in places like far corners of manufacturing plants or outdoor campuses – the only true network access alternative is to use private cellular.
This often leads IT departments down the path of researching whether cellular wireless services from public carriers can be leveraged. Cellular data is one of the few widely-available wireless technologies that provides the necessary coverage, throughput and low-latency that many IoT and IIoT use-cases now require.
Unfortunately, public mobile networks suffer from numerous shortcomings and pitfalls including coverage dead spots, data security concerns, a lack of granular quality of service (QoS) enforcement and the enormous cost involved in sending multiple gigabits of data across the public radio access network (RAN). Simply put, if LTE/5G is the right access technology – yet it’s not available where needed or costs too much to operate – the point quickly becomes moot.
But what if the existing drawbacks of public LTE/5G services could be overcome by using a private Radio Access Network (RAN) operating across private spectrum options, such as the Citizens Broadband Radio Spectrum (CBRS) in the US?
A superior approach
This is the precise reason why Celona and Sierra Wireless have joined forces. From a radio access perspective, businesses can choose to deploy a Celona-powered private mobile network that allows administrators to cover an entire building, plant or campus quickly and easily. A Celona RAN provides unprecedented coverage, performance, SLA-backed QoS and data security with the ability to transmit and receive data without the concern of costly data transport charges that are associated with carrier alternatives.
From an endpoint connectivity perspective, Sierra’s line of AirLink® Cellular-to-Ethernet cellular gateways can connect any Ethernet or Wi-Fi-capable PC, IoT/IIoT or mobile device to offer both reliable connectivity and mobility. These Sierra gateways are designed to be deployed on private spectrum (as much as they are to support licensed spectrum options from public mobile network providers) - such as CBRS band 48 in the US - and can connect to a network Celona out-of-the-box with no special configuration required.
To catch a live demonstration of how Sierra routers can be connected to a Celona private LTE wireless network, see this article.
To prove that a combined Celona/Sierra Wireless access architecture is ideal for situations where physical cabling, Wi-Fi and carrier LTE/5G simply doesn’t make sense, let’s briefly look at two example use cases.
Use case 1: Mobile robotics support with Sierra
The use of robots in manufacturing is nothing new. However, when robots on a manufacturing plant floor require continuous mobility, it creates brand new challenges from a network connectivity perspective. In this case, robots were deployed to facilitate finished product pickup and distribution tasks requiring the robots to move throughout the facility at up to 25mph.
Because the automated mobile robots were designed with mobility in mind, physical cabling to the plant data network was obviously out of the question. Additionally, an ultra-high density deployment of Wi-Fi access points would be required to enable the necessary location telemetry and low-latency access required for the robotic systems to operate effectively. This type of Wi-Fi deployment is often challenging to deploy and maintain while also introducing mobility issues as the robots continuously roam from one Wi-Fi access point (AP) to the next during travel.
The superior approach in this situation is to outfit the mobile robotic systems with Sierra AirLink® LTE/5G gateways while covering the manufacturing plant with a Celona-powered private cellular network.
The result is a clean wireless spectrum from which to operate within, less roaming between APs and a high-bandwidth, low latency connection needed for accurate, real time data telemetry streaming.
Use case 2: Flexible and cost-effective surveillance camera deployments with Sierra
As the cost of surveillance cameras and associated monitoring hardware and software declines, enterprise organizations are planning to deploy more cameras throughout indoor and outdoor locations in the coming months. Unfortunately, many of these desired deployment locations are in far off areas where the existing wired and Wi-Fi network cannot reach without significant build-out costs.
While leveraging public LTE/5G carriers may be an option from a camera connectivity standpoint, the data-rate cost incurred when transmitting high-definition video across a carrier network can get expensive in a hurry.
Instead of spending money on running cables that remain fixed to a single location – or entering into expensive carrier LTE/5G contracts – a cheaper and more flexible option would be to connect surveillance cameras to Sierra AirLink® gateways and stream them across a private Celona RAN. The outcome of this architecture provides flexible coverage that’s free from interference, SLA-backed Celona MicroSlicing™ policy enforcement to guarantee performance and the ability to transmit / receive as much data as needed with no concern over data transport charges.
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