What is Private LTE?

May 16, 2019

Most businesses and agencies understand the benefits of cellular-based broadband for wide-area networking. But how about using LTE for a local-area network, or LAN? In most use cases, Wi-Fi is the natural option for wireless LAN deployments. However, organizations that oversee vast, sprawling locations with lots of connected people, devices, and applications understand the challenges of using Wi-Fi as wireless LAN. Those challenges include:

  • High latency that hinders high-bandwidth applications
  • Range limitations
  • Network congestion
  • Inability to control and automate Quality-of-Service
  • Information security

The cost of infrastructure In large areas, these challenges are addressed by using Private LTE instead of Wi-Fi as wireless LAN. Organizations place micro towers, small cells, edge routers, and other infrastructure on-site. This setup allows them to mimic a standard public cellular network, but with less congestion and more cost-effectiveness — even in areas where public LTE infrastructure doesn’t exist. In most cases, Private LTE is based on shared spectrum, which is owned but not often licensed or used. CBRS is the most common example. Network operators also can license their own spectrum directly to enterprises or third-party providers, or they can operate a Private LTE network as a managed service with flat-rate pricing.

Another option is unlicensed spectrum such as the 5 GHZ band that is used for Wi-Fi. Private LTE is a highly flexible alternative to Wi-Fi that offers several key benefits. First, Private LTE is much more cost-effective than large-scale Wi-Fi because the infrastructure is less expensive, but mostly because end users can run their own cellular network without any recurring data costs.

Regarding performance, Private LTE offers a much better experience for today’s high-bandwidth applications such as robotics and video surveillance streaming. The network and its infrastructure control all connections, and priority and pre-emption can be assigned to certain SIMs and devices, providing better Quality-of-Service.

Security is another key advantage of Private LTE. Keeping traffic local between IoT devices and on-site servers is important. Also, LTE endpoints require SIM cards and PINs, which provide a form of two-factor authentication that isn’t available with Wi-Fi. With Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service delivered through Gigabit-Class LTE routers that support CBRS, organizations can have remotely managed user equipment that fits well into Private LTE use cases of all shapes and sizes — from manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and mines to airports, hospitals, and even cities. The result is a wireless LAN that is more reliable, high-performing, secure, and cost-effective than Wi-Fi.

Learn more about Private LTE here: https://cradlepoint.com/technology/private-lte/

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