Wireless connectivity challenges unique to venues and retail locations
Wi-Fi and Public LTE/5G networks fail to deliver acceptable levels of throughput and latency when they become over utilized - which tends to happen frequently across public venues and environments where retailers are present across cities and communities.
Additionally, wireless coverage and data security concerns limit where apps can be used and for what purpose. It’s for these reasons and more why organizations that conduct business in densely occupied public/private venues and retail locations are considering to move their critical business operations technologies to a Celona private mobile network.
As technologies become increasingly mobile, our reliance on wireless network access increases in step. In indoor/outdoor venues and retail areas where users and wireless devices are densely populated, traditional networks can become overtaxed. This limits network operability from a throughput, latency and jitter perspective.
A second common problem is that existing wireless network access may not provide coverage in areas such as seasonal operations located in parking lots or outdoor common areas. While Wi-Fi could be extended – or public 5G used as an alternative network access method – both raise concerns from a reliability, data security and cost perspective.
Business-critical wireless connectivity finds its match with Celona
More and more, retailers and venue mobile operations interact with their shoppers and visitors using smartphone and tablet devices as opposed to purpose-built hardware.
One retail venue in Indiana, US decided to move their critical customer service infrastructure to Celona private LTE connectivity - for improved efficiency and privacy.
Retail businesses have grown to rely on applications and services found in the Android and Apple app ecosystems. In many cases, point of sale (POS), voice/video communications, inventory, and mobile event management apps are commonly used by staff. Of course, these devices and applications rely heavily on wireless connectivity to operate and communicate with back-end servers and databases located in data centers or public clouds.
Traditionally speaking, venue and retail IT departments leveraged their existing Wi-Fi network for critical and non-critical computing purposes. During hours when the venue or store is closed or is at low-occupancy, Wi-Fi can indeed provide sufficient network throughput and latency for both needs. However, once customers, attendees and others begin occupying these areas and connect to Wi-Fi, the number of users/devices transmitting and receiving data on a single Wi-Fi access point can quickly surpass the total over-the-air capacity available.
When architecting wireless access in highly-congested or high density areas such as venues/retail outlets, two options typically come to mind. One is to redesign the Wi-Fi network for high-density deployments. This consists of moving Wi-Fi APs closer together and carefully planning which channels should be used in the 2.4, 5 and 6GHz 802.11 unlicensed spectrum. While this can alleviate some network congestion issues, it significantly increases the implementation cost of the network while not completely solving the issue of how to transport mission-critical traffic with guaranteed levels of per-application quality of service (QoS).
A second option is to rely on public LTE/5G services for mission-critical communication and application purposes during peak occupancy hours. Again, while this option may alleviate issues on some occasions, there’s a high chance that if the business Wi-Fi is becoming over congested with too many users/devices attempting to connect – the public carrier networks are likely experiencing similar issues with over-utilization.
Again, this leaves employees and staff members of the venue / retailer with wireless network connectivity that may fail when it’s needed the most.
Celona delivers a flexible, secure and congestion free wireless “express lane”
Once retail and venue operators discover just how easy and cost effective it was to implement a Celona private LTE/5G network, they find that switching to a private mobile network that operates in the interference-free Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the US - and versions of it that are being made availabile internationally - delivers an “express lane” experience for mission critical applications and essential digital infrastructure operated by staff members.
With Celona LTE or 5G wireless reserved for their private connectivity, retail and venue operators will no longer be concerned over coverage, performance and security when it comes to adopting digital initiatives to run their business - even in the middle of increasing congestion within the Wi-Fi or the public mobile network.
Whether indoors or out, a Celona private mobile network can be rapidly deployed to provide dedicated network resources in a variety of venue or retail use-cases including the real-time streaming of voice/video communications, secure POS services, mobile event management tools and ticketing applications.
Thanks to Celona MicroSlicing, each application and device group can be assigned specific set of network access rules and service level agreement (SLA) for throughput, latency and packet error rate. This allows for predictable performance on any critical application, going beyond simple QoS mechanisms applied within the network.
Additionally, in many cases, seasonal-use areas such as parking lots or adjoining open spaces on venue campuses can be easily covered with Celona outdoor access points given its significant coverage capabilities.
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