Learn how Cradlepoint is approaching the software-defined, multi-WAN future of 5G
As 5G continues to take shape at the standards levels, service providers and vendors are aggressively breaking down new, Internet of Things use cases that will be made possible with the ultra-low latency and high bandwidth of next-generation networks. At this point, it’s clear that pushing compute and processing capabilities to the edge of converged wired and wireless networks is the only way to keep up with the massive data volume the IoT will produce.
During Mobile World Congress 2017, RCR Wireless News caught up with Cradlepoint’s Lindsay Notwell, VP, Worldwide Carrier Operations, and Ken Hosac, VP, Business Development, to get some insight into how the telecommunications ecosystem is approaching these trends with an eye on providing value to a wide range of enterprise and industrial customers.
“The thing that 5G brings is ultra-low latency and ultra-high speeds. When you think about that sort of thing, you think about things like video and video conferencing,” Notwell said. “That’s all well and good, but we see applications like remote robotics or remote surgery or hazardous environment—think about a firefighter now having the visual of plans in their headset…being able to deliver them potentially life-saving applications where they just wouldn’t have had the same kind of capabilities before at the edge of the network.”
Building on that, Hosac said, 5G will see convergence of wired and wireless providers—a trend currently playing out in recent high-profile mergers and acquisitions. “Our customers,” he said, “already appreciate the reliability of wireless. But what they want now is the bandwidth you are afforded with 5G because with the 5G network. Combined with all the wired [infrastructure]use cases, something like Netflix at home, would be a drop in the bucket compared to what the enterprises want to use.”
Speaking of IoT- generated data, Hosac said the volume of that data is growing “exponentially faster than the ability of the network to process it. We’re pushing the compute resources out to the edge so that as you have all that IoT data coming in, we can pre-process that and send the results in.”
He gave the example of remote monitoring for failures in a refrigeration unit, then using edge intelligence to predictively identify compressor failure. “These are the things that you can do when you have that extra bandwidth—you can bring big data up to the cloud, analyze it, look for those signatures of a failure, then push down that algorithm back to the edge.”
From a product standpoint, Cradlepoint is approaching edge intelligence with its COR IBR900 series routers, which has an embedded Category 6 modem to support LTE-Advanced and 802.11ac Wave 2 features, and supports in-vehicle, M2M and IoT applications in verticals including manufacturing, agriculture and utilities, for example.
In the context of the evolution from LTE to gigabit LTE to 5G, Notwell said, while the latest router doesn’t have a 5G radio in it, during the development process, “We had to think about engineering that device for end-to-end gigabit throughput.”
Hosac said Cradlepoint uses NFV technologies so customers can run applications at the network edge. He also pointed out that LTE and 5G networks will coexist for a long time, which is well-suited to the company’s expertise. “You’re going to see 4G with 5G start to layer out in certain areas. One of the things Cradlepoint is very good at is multi-WAN connectivity; in-branch people call it SD-WAN. A really important part of the success of rolling out and being early adopters on 5G is to have a seamless experience between 4G and 5G and use these software-defined WAN capabilities to be able to route applications and their traffic between those WANs.”
Hitting on another important IoT issue that is routinely cited by enterprise CIOs as a hindrance to investment, Hosac discussed the role of security in IoT success. “We have software defined networks that are overlay networks that use a client that goes directly into IoT devices. A lot of people will start that encryption at the router. IoT, the serious guys, want to start it in the devices. That end-to-end security…is a fundamental part of our solution.”
Cradlepoint’s NetCloud connectivity and management platform, in addition to providing end-to-end security, enables deployment and remote management of multi-WAN branch and in-vehicle routers and IoT gateways; a combination of NFV, SDN supports virtual cloud networking and paves the way to the flexibility and scalability promised by 5G.
Notwell likened 5G to the ability to extend a LAN to anywhere in the world. “Some of the things that you have the ability to do in a wired environment today with, say, fiber optics, now you can extend that. It starts to stretch the imagination. There’s so many industries and verticals and companies who have had to sacrifice the kind of capabilities that they have at the edge of their network because they haven’t had the connectivity. That all goes away now because you have the ability to deliver those capabilities anywhere.”
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