Industrial Private LTE & Wi-Fi: Coexisting

Industrial LTE & Wifi

I often am asked to describe how Private LTE and Wi-Fi would coexist in an industrial company looking at adding Private LTE to its existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.   Since most Industrial Customers ask the question, I decided to summarize thoughts expressed in most of these meetings.   Below are my thoughts.    Let me know if you agree or disagree.

Private LTE & Wi-Fi…  some thoughts

No single wireless technology can adequately address all the possible use-cases and associated challenges.

  • Wi-Fi:
    • Wi-Fi is here to stay. Large mobile operators who are deploying extensive LTE network, currently and continue to leverage Wi-Fi as an augmentation technology layer.
    • From the enterprise side of any industrial company, Wi-Fi has a critical role; it will continue to expand and remain an essential part of the future connectivity requirements for the network. Wi-Fi is an efficient way to deliver business services that do not need over-the-air quality of service, traffic priority mapping, and strict latency parameters.
    • From the industrial communications side of most industrial companies, Wi-Fi still has an important role. However, Wi-Fi has a shorter range, smaller density capability, lack of over-the-air traffic prioritization/QoS, and variable latency. Wi-Fi’s weakness makes it challenging to deliver critical and high-priority industrial traffic such as process, automation, control autonomous vehicles/machine traffic paths, etc. However, Wi-Fi is essential for hotspots in the industrial asset, so the less critical traffic is not taxing the mission-critical LTE network.
    • Wi-Fi coexistence with LTE is proven. We all leverage this coexistence throughout the day, at home, at work, and while traveling.  The technology coexistence is in each device we carry and use daily.  The Private LTE and Wi-Fi coexistence will be critical to the overall success of any industrial company and provide a cost-effective solution for future network requirements and applications. LTE can integrate seamlessly with Wi-Fi utilizing intelligent network selection.  All of us, as consumers, are benefitting from fundamental LTE-Wi-Fi coexistence.  For a more integrated coexistence, INS (Intelligent Network Selection) optimizes connectivity, mitigating the risk of congesting an LTE network by offloading abusive data users.   INS is also offering differentiated services and seamless data handoffs depending on priority queues and extending VoIP/SIP services to endpoints while maintaining security and visibility of subscribers regardless of the access technology.
  • Private LTE:
    • LTE (Long Term Evolution)
    • For over a decade now, LTE is at the foundation of every wireless carrier globally. The ecosystem is extensive, offering many user devices and applications.  The LTE ecosystem includes Broadband, Narrowband, IIoT, surveillance, and monitoring devices.  Globally, Private LTE is the fastest growing wireless technology for Industry and Enterprise.
    • One of the biggest challenges in planning a Private LTE network is access to readily available LTE-spectrum (the 3GPP defines spectrum bands).
    • For the first eight (8) years of LTE deployments, there were only about 30 3GPP LTE band classes that were available to mobile Carriers. In the last three years, the 3GPP approved over 40 additional LTE bands.  These new 40 bands were sponsored by enterprise and industry to accommodate the much need Private LTE network.
    • In the last four years, in the USA, the FCC has reviewed and discussed the ability to rebrand spectrum in the USA to create a large amount of 3GPP LTE spectrum in a single band for industries and enterprises. It was critical for all involved parties that the FCC allowed the mobile carriers also to have access to this new CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band: ensuring the ecosystem has access to the volume the carriers can drive.  It was even more critical for the enterprise and industrial markets that the FCC be able to restrict the mobile carriers to only a portion of the new band.  This FCC “gift” is the first new 3GPP LTE band class offering enterprise and industry the ability for much-needed spectrum relief, and it is available at minimal (or no) cost to the customers.  The access to private LTE spectrum, with a rich ecosystem of devices, without the need to purchase or lease expensive spectrum, is truly a unique opportunity provided by the FCC.   This new band is labeled CBRS (Citizen Broadband Radio Service – Band Class 48).   The new CBRS spectrum provides industrial companies an unprecedented ability to deploy a private LTE leveraging an ecosystem of devices and benefit from support for full mobility, QoS, low latency, high level of security, and coexistence with Wi-Fi.
    • From the enterprise side of any industrial company, Private LTE will have a rapidly expanding role as most new application development assumes that the wireless layer and devices all support full mobility. With the proliferation of business and efficiency applications to be deployed by the enterprise side of any industrial company, having the ability to prioritize traffic flows and applications, over-the-air will become critical.
    • From the industrial communications side of any industrial company, Private LTE is becoming a necessity, as multiple broadbands, narrowband, and PTT (Push to Talk) wireless networks need to integrate under one multi-service infrastructure. Private LTE networks deliver extended range, higher density, comprehensive over-the-air traffic prioritization/QoS, and predictable latency. The strengths of private LTE’s make it the ideal technology to deliver critical and high-priority industrial traffic such as process, automation, control autonomous vehicles/machine traffic paths.
    • Broadband and narrowband alternatives for the LTE standard are available and marketed by large mobile operators. Again, the ecosystem to support these IoT applications will ever increase based on the carrier’s volume and become instantly available for deployment in a private LTE
    • Private LTE coexistence with Wi-Fi has been part of our daily life for a decade. All of us leverage this coexistence throughout the day at home, at work, and while traveling. The LTE and Wi-Fi coexistence will be critical to the overall success of any industrial company.
  • Public LTE:
    • It would not be fair to forget the value of Public LTE. Although QoS and traffic prioritizing are not enabled in most public mobile networks, having access to public LTE outside of the Private LTE coverage is critical.  With dual-SIM user devices, having Wi-Fi, Public LTE, and Private LTE on a single user device is today’s reality.  Although not necessary, having dual SIMs makes it that much easier to leverage Private LTE, Public LTE in addition to public Wi-Fi, and of course, corporate Private Wi-Fi.
    • The Public LTE service providers are making a big push towards Industry, IIoT, and surveillance, but they also are not delivering the proper QoS, Security, and connection reliability. Also, the public LTE service providers are regulated and must sell their services with regular metered tariffs, hence driving constant growth in cost as industry deploys more and more applications.
  • Private LTE makes sense for industry:
    • Private LTE offers a lot of value and technology advantages for industry:
      • LTE is reliable and deployed globally
      • LTE is standards-based
      • LTE delivers the highest level of over-the-air security
      • LTE provides the highest level of over-the-air QoS and prioritization
      • LTE has an extensive ecosystem
      • LTE provides full mobility and transparent handoff, a critical requirement for all new applications
      • LTE offers standard-based broadband and narrowband on the same radio, at the same time and in the same spectrum.
      • The 3GPP LTE forum approved spectrum bands have increased from 30 to more than 70 in the last few years providing additional options for the private LTE network
      • In the USA, with CBRS, the FCC now offers a 3GPP LTE spectrum at minimal to zero cost!
      • Private LTE is becoming a requirement for enterprise, industry, government, and any other large organization depending on agile, capable, and secure wireless technology for private fixed, nomadic, and mobile networks.
  • Why do Manufacturer place their bet on Industrial Private LTE
    • Private LTE is the fastest growing wireless technology for private networks in utilities, oil, and gas, mining along with other industrial markets.
    • With the service provider race to turn on urban 5G for the next five years, none of the large LTE Telecom equipment manufacturers such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, have time or resources to focus on the industrial space with its needs for specialty, fit-for-purpose product & service designs.
    • Some manufacturers designed a combination of private LTE products and services offering that leverages standards-based solutions providing the most robust, secure, and powerful wireless technology available on the market. LTE also has the comprehensive security and QoS required for industrial communications.
  • Why industry leaders will deploy Private LTE
    • In its quest for a wireless infrastructure that will deliver multi-services, high availability, high performance, application/traffic segmentation, priority, and flexibility, leading Industry companies will deploy a private LTE globally. In the USA, the new CBRS spectrum now provides the ability to accelerate the deployment of Private LTE.
    • Private LTE is the strategic long-term technology solution that will ensure the long-term longevity of the wireless network investment.
    • Private LTE (Long-Term Evolution) will evolve and remain the network technology enabling industrial companies to stay ahead of the curve in adoption and support of new industrial applications and use-cases.
    • Private LTE delivers the latest mobile requirements for enterprise and industrial business users. T
    • he private LTE network allows industrial companies to strengthen its wireless network foundation to realize their digital transformation and evolution goals today and over the Long-Term Evolution of the digital transformation.
    • Private LTE delivers to industrial companies
      • The needed mobility
      • The industrial reliability it required for Process, Automation and Controls systems
      • Multi-services with differentiated QoS
      • Range & Capacity throughout the network coverage
      • A solution fit-for-purpose & fit for the environment
      • The Long-Term Evolution needed for the wireless network.

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What are your thoughts?

Agree?  Disagree?… Contact me

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Acknowledgments

This piece is the result of countless meetings and discussions with customers, co-workers and other industry friends, who all share a passion for the wireless technologies and solutions that are at the foundation of the digital transformation of Industry.

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