When business leaders think of network connectivity for industrial enterprises, they usually think of Wi-Fi, LTE, or 5G. But these networks need to work better to connect people all the time.
High-speed Wi-Fi supports a growing number of mobile devices. Due to protocol issues, this technology is best for non-mission-critical communications. Wi-Fi restricts clients to one access point. As mobile clients move farther from access points, the signal drops fast.
Do not think poor performance is confined to clients who have moved away from the Access Point (AP). Wi-Fi networks are afflicted by a little-known performance issue in which an access point (AP) self-retards itself and only transmits as quickly as its weakest client connection. If you have mobile clients, you should anticipate that your best data rate will be a fraction of the bandwidth stated. Consequently, when the client leaves the range of the AP, it must terminate the connection before passing control to the next AP. When this occurs, vital information is lost. Integrators can attempt to reduce hand-off time, but it is impossible to eliminate regular connectivity losses in large Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, many operators are searching for Wi-Fi alternatives for mission-critical applications.
Everyone appreciates their smartphones for their simplicity. Consequently, why wouldn’t an LTE carrier network be a smart option for your Industrial operation? With the introduction of 4G, LTE grew in popularity. 5G networks are newer LTE networks. With fixed-location base stations and a complicated routing core, cellular networks are inherently infrastructure-driven. Cellular base stations profit from high-power transmissions using antennas with a high gain atop tall towers for high-power broadcasts over licensed spectrum. They benefit urban and suburban regions since one tower may cover a big area. Cellular connections to Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 apps and equipment may not provide enough coverage or data dependability. Cellular networks are infrastructure-oriented. Therefore, coverage and data reliability are poor in warehouses, processing plants, and hospitals.
Smartphones dominate these networks. Therefore carriers optimize service for them. Downstream access receives 80% of the bandwidth. LTE, independent of the network operator, lacks the upstream capacity industrial operations need to run mission-critical applications like closed-circuit TVs and real-time machine guidance. Industrial network client nodes do not consume data as smartphones do. Theirs. LTE isn’t built for industrial bandwidth. You can easily verify this if you like. Smartphones with fast download speeds are fantastic for watching YouTube and Facebook videos. Shoot 10-15 minutes of smartphone footage and time how long it takes to text or emails it to a buddy. Due to the lesser upload capacity, it will take longer.
5G is commonly discussed here. Companies become enthusiastic about 5G when executives learn about how it will transform the game. 5G uses higher frequencies to send data faster than 4G, but that’s not all. 5G frequencies are short-range. 5G demands greater connectivity and signal quality, which means more towers and better line of sight. Carrier infrastructure has long obstructed communities’ sight. Carrier’s network improvements will worsen this issue. Despite the excitement, 5G still has the same problem as 4G: bandwidth is disproportionately assigned to the download stream instead of the upload stream, where industrial users need it most. 5G upstream capacity exceeds 4G. You get about 20% of the stated data rates.
Private LTE is available if a customer buys a network instead of renting airtime. Network owners can allocate bandwidth. Private LTE networks usually provide equal upload and download bandwidth. Private LTE networks struggle most with bandwidth. Channel size affects bandwidth. Channelized frequencies Frequency licenses cost. Carriers can spread this expense across hundreds of thousands of customers. Private businesses must spread that cost across their many clientele.
Even if the client can afford the frequency, licensed or unlicensed frequency is typically scarce. Private LTE’s higher equipment and operating costs make it difficult to deploy. Thus, the network will cost more. The network will have lower throughput and cost more to maintain. Mesh networks are another solution many clients overlook. This flexible network allows peer-to-peer and large-scale networking. A strong mesh system solves numerous networking issues: Multiple device connections without losing connection. Size and density strengthen the best mesh networks. Some mesh networks self-optimize. All Wi-Fi and LTE networks are static. Only network administrators change their behavior.