Cradlepoint: Until 5G Arrives Everywhere in the UK, What Can Wireless Do For You Right Now?
Todd Krautkremer is the CMO Cradlepoint. Here he explains how Gigabit-Class LTE leverages many of the same technologies that are forming the foundation of 5G.
5G has arrived in the UK, and with EE’s recent rollout of services in six cities, a pathway is emerging to general availability. But, as we’re much closer to the start of that journey than the end, what can businesses do right now to use today’s advanced 4G LTE technology to benefit from high-speed wireless connectivity?
4G LTE has been a global success story. It has allowed us to work, relax and connect in ways that could not have been possible in the 3G world. It’s created new business models and allowed the likes of Uber and Facebook to become hugely influential. While 5G has been hogging the headlines, 4G LTE has been steadily evolving to connect faster than ever before. Wireless carriers have been investing in aggressively upgrading their LTE infrastructure to deliver Gigabit-Class LTE as part of their own pathway to 5G.
Gigabit-Class LTE leverages many of the same technologies that are forming the foundation of 5G. For example, 256 QAM allows carriers to cram more bits into the same spectrum, 4x4 MIMO enables more radio bandwidth between user equipment and towers, and Carrier Aggregation (CA) is a form of inverse multiplexing of spectrum channels to deliver wider bandwidth and faster speeds. Some carriers are more vocal about their use of Gigabit-Class LTE than others. In the US, for example, AT&T has boldly called their upgraded Gigabit-Class LTE network 5G Evolution or 5GE. The resulting controversy has ended up in the courts.
But, let’s put those definitions, disagreements and marketing battles aside for a moment, and examine what Gigabit-Class LTE can offer today. For organisations that want to extend the reach, reliability, and speed of their enterprise branch networks without all of the complexity challenges of traditional wired connections, Gigabit-Class LTE can today provide as much as 80% of the value of 5G.
The Missing Link: No Overage Data Plans
Gigabit-Class LTE, along with the arrival of unlimited, ‘no overage’ data plans, represents the missing link for many organisations that have been thinking about replacing wired access links for wireless at their branch locations. LTE has already carved a valuable role as the go-to connection for failover and Day-1 connectivity, but now, it’s is a viable option for primary WAN connectivity as well. This allows organisations to ‘cut the cord’ and replace multiple cable and DSL providers – often stitched together to provide a branch network – with just one or two wireless providers. In doing so, they can also realise a significant improvement in WAN uptime.
Similarly, wireless edge routers designed to provide a ‘Pathway to 5G’ will enable enterprises to take advantage of 5G when and where it arrives at branch locations. They can do this, and work seamlessly with existing LTE sites, without disruptive or costly upgrades.
Mobile Connectivity to Support Mobile Workers
Organisations that depend on mobile workers and mobile networks, such as emergency services, transportation companies, utility companies and many others, are already seeing the power of secure in-vehicle networks using reliable LTE connectivity.
In many of these sectors, vehicles have evolved to become remote offices and field-based communications hubs. This has been key to allowing users to access mission-critical applications and the Internet from anywhere. They also keep data flowing to and from the cloud across a variety of IoT devices, including vehicle telemetry systems, sensors and surveillance cameras. In larger vehicle fleets, organisations are deploying routers that support and intelligently manage traffic across multiple, concurrent mobile providers to ensure they have non-stop networking.
The Future is Wireless
Whenever the performance and economics of wireless converge with a wired rival, wireless always wins. That point of convergence is about to happen in the WAN space. Looking back at recent tech history, the pattern repeats: cordless phones have pretty much killed off corded ones—that’s if your home phone has not already been replaced by your mobile phone. Wireless speakers and Bluetooth headsets are rapidly displacing more awkward wired options. And, wireless LANs usurped wired Ethernet in the office and public spaces over a decade ago.
5G is on course to deliver the biggest communications transformation since the Internet, and the wireless WAN wave is now upon us. On our journey to this faster future, Gigabit-Class LTE delivers 80% of the value that most enterprises want today – a faster and pervasive wireless connection. For anyone building a wireless edge strategy, having a built-in pathway to 5G can help ensure they are ready for the future.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”