For businesses that operate in far-reaching outdoor or indoor/outdoor flex spaces such as warehouses, manufacturing plants, shipping yards and outdoor test facilities, technologies used to digitally transform (DX) these sites are readily available and can create extraordinary operational efficiencies. The challenge, however, is deploying these types of connected technologies in harsh and expansive environments. Learn how a Celona private mobile network provides the right balance of wireless network coverage, performance and manageability that modern outdoor DX projects demand.
Wireless is the answer – but which one is best?
Digital transformation technologies such as IoT/IIoT sensors, virtual and augmented reality, inventory monitoring, physical security and traffic management all require access to back-end storage and compute services for proper operation. Of course, this puts tremendous pressure on the underlying network infrastructure to provide reliable and resilient connectivity. Unlike traditional enterprise office settings where wireless connectivity is designed and deployed to address throughput and device capacity concerns, outdoor wireless deployments demand a greater focus on interference-free wireless access that covers a wide geographic footprint.
There are several wireless technologies often considered for outdoor DX deployments. These include Wi-Fi, public LTE/5G and privately managed / owned LTE and 5G wireless networks powered by spectrum options such as CBRS in the United States.
When evaluating wireless options that focus on signal coverage as opposed to capacity and throughput, the shortcomings of Wi-Fi become abundantly clear. Most of the technological advancements found in Wi-Fi as of late focus on faster speeds and the ability to operate in areas where device density is high. In outdoor settings where devices are fewer and spread further apart, these advancements largely become irrelevant. Additionally, because of the low Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) limits imposed on wireless networks operating in the 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz unlicensed spectrums, this significantly reduces coverage distances that Wi-Fi access points (APs) can achieve.
It’s also important to note that Wi-Fi technologies were designed to perform at optimal data transport levels, often sacrificing signal coverage in favor of performance gains. In situations where devices are connected to a Wi-Fi AP, yet signal strength is low, it’s common to experience connectivity and reliability issues.
Instead of shoehorning a Wi-Fi network into an outdoor or flex space where clear operational deficiencies exist, a preferred option would be to use a wireless access technology that was purpose-built to cover large geographic areas, be highly resilient, and can continue to provide data transport even at low signal strength levels.
This is precisely the type of environments that private cellular LTE and 5G networks were built for and tend to shine in. The problem, of course is that enterprise outdoor locations are often found in lightly-populated and far-off locations. Thus, its often the case that public cellular does not exist where the business requires it.
Operating a Celona private LTE/5G network in the CBRS spectrum
Instead of Wi-Fi or public LTE/5G, the clear choice for outdoor and flex wireless deployments is a Celona private mobile network. Because Celona wireless networks operate in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, wireless access can be deployed virtually anywhere and can legally operate at much higher power output capacities compared to Wi-Fi.
This equates to a single Celona AP having the geographic coverage capacity of up to 10 enterprise-grade Wi-Fi access points in outdoor settings. Additionally, because a Celona private mobile network is fully managed by the business owner, AP’s and antennas can be strategically deployed in any number of ways to cover an entire location – or just a handful of wireless-capable “hot zones”. Thus, the flexibility of a Celona-powered cellular network can be architected in such a way to precisely provide the right levels of coverage today with the ability to easily expand that coverage in the future.
When it comes to connecting devices to a Celona private mobile network, this connectivity can take several forms depending on business need. In a growing number of cases including modern Android/Apple smartphones and tablets, devices natively connect to the Celona CBRS network by way of Celona SIM cards inserted into CBRS-capable SIM card slots. For IoT sensors, laptops and IIoT equipment that cannot natively connect to private cellular networks, a host of economically-priced CBRS gateways and USB adaptors can be used to onboard any IP-capable device.
For a full suite of devices that can run on a Celona private mobile network, take a look at this list.
Finally, because of Celona’s flexible and granular MicroSlicing™ quality of service (QoS) technology, a private mobile network can support a wide range of wireless use-cases and devices while also providing strict traffic policy enforcement for business-critical data flows. MicroSlicing™ creates piece of mind for administrators where if network congestion were to occur, the bottleneck would not impact the operation of traffic that is placed into high-priority network slices.
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