Cellular in SD-WAN: Why It Matters

January 7, 2021

The cloud, big data, analytics, mobility, Internet of Things (IoT) and social collaboration are just some of the technologies unlocking unprecedented innovation and transforming every business operation aspect. However, for CIOs, this new development can be more of a headache than a blessing.

Enterprises have long relied only on private networks to give their subsidiaries, branches or stores secure, highly available and high-performing access to applications and business management systems residing within their private data centers. However, the enterprise network’s capacity is in higher demand as data requirements increase due to the rising use of videos, guest networks, IoT data, and time- and latency-sensitive applications, such as voice and secure transactions. Traffic intended for the cloud is now taking an out-of-the-way route to its destination.

Unfortunately, this new reality is only increasing operational costs, penalizing quality of service (QoS) and performance, and consuming not easily upgradeable enterprise network capacity. This is driving the desire for two investments:

  • Alternative backhaul solutions — including public internet and wireless cellular networks — to connect employees to enterprise data systems
  • Dashboards to gain more visibility into applications and traffic control from distributed locations across the enterprise network
Take 5G for a Test Drive

While it would be easy to resist deploying a cloud platform or any other high-connectivity technology, businesses cannot afford to sacrifice the potential of these investments. Could 5G cellular SD-WAN be the missing link to seizing the benefits of today’s latest technology while maintaining the control, reliability, visibility and security that enterprises value most?

5G SD-WAN: A Potential Game-Changer for the Distributed Enterprise

Software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs) promise to revolutionize how businesses connect with their distributed chain of physical locations. It simplifies and accelerates enterprise connectivity by combining multiple branch links with intelligent traffic directing across those links and policy-driven WAN management.

SD-WAN enables businesses to take advantage of three fundamental capabilities:

  • Uniting public internet, cellular, private MPLS and now 5G network links to a remote location into a single, virtual and high-capacity circuit for all applications and services while fully controlling the links
  • Customizing the enterprise’s bandwidth and connectivity to deliver specific network services to an individual or a group of locations and users
  • Defining and managing policies and network traffic to and from one or more business systems, eliminating the need to configure each device manually

Businesses can dramatically lower the cost of their private WAN services and reduce outages, whether SD-WAN is deployed over public internet, LTE, 5G links, cloud-based private networks or 5G with a mix of MPLS, public internet and LTE. More importantly, employees and partners in remote locations gain the transparent, collaborative and knowledge-rich environment they need to succeed.

5G Cellular SD-WAN

Wireless networks have evolved dramatically with LTE and now 5G. Operators worldwide have been upgrading so rapidly that traffic demand exploded with the increasing consumer appetite for social media and data-intensive applications. LTE-Advanced technologies and 5G wireless networks can offer peak data rates in the multi-gigabit per second (Gbps), which is well beyond the data rates provided by traditional public wired internet options short of fiber. With 3GPP Release (Rel) 16 rolling out in another year, 5G will usher in a new era, overlaying ultra-reliable and low-latency performance to current super-high data rates.

With the aggressive rollout of 5G, wireless technology has outpaced wired to the point that enterprises are finding it difficult to ignore. Early enterprise use cases for wireless include LTE failover. However, with ubiquitous coverage, increased network throughputs, including a dramatic increase in uplink throughputs compared to 4G, and one-millisecond latency, 5G has the power to become the primary connection for distributed enterprises.


What to Look For in a Cellular Network Cards Portfolio for Your SD-WAN Routers and Gateways

Start by identifying a portfolio of high-speed, industrial-grade data cards available in NGFF M.2 and mini PCIe (mPCIe) form factors to support designs for mobile computing, networking and IoT applications. Look for plug-and-play integration simplicity covering the speed and performance you need and certifications for use in the countries and mobile operators you want. See below how Telit organizes its portfolio of data cards:

  • FN980 and FN980m: Delivers Rel 15 5G performance with global bands and extensive operator certifications, including 4G, 3G and GNSS. It is available in the M.2 form factor with two SKUs. The FN980 SKU supports frequency range 1 (FR1), also called sub-6 (GHz). This SKU is essential in the 5G portfolio since mmWave adds cost, which can hurt optimal pricing for enterprise networking products not requiring mmWave. The FN980m supports both FR1 and FR2, which is also called mmWave. FN980m supports low-power mmWave and high-power mmWave. High-power mmWave offers the highest speeds and throughputs suitable for outdoor customer premises equipment (CPE) for enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB). The FN980 and FN980m support Citizens Broadband Radio System (CBRS) Band 48 (B48) and most other private 4G and private 5G bands assigned globally to date. With private 5G and SD-WAN uniting to deliver a broad new spectrum of enterprise solutions, ensure your selected 5G portfolio covers it well.
  • LM960A18: An mPCIe data card delivering LTE Category (Cat) 18 device gigabit performance. This data card is designed for networks that require download rates up to 1.2 Gbps with 4 × 4 MIMO and upload rates up to 150 Mbps using intraband and interband carrier aggregation. It supports the CBRS B48 for private LTE. LM960A9-P is a Cat 9 CBRS-only variant for private LTE-based SD-WAN and other enterprise network appliances to enhance performance inside campuses, small cells and buildings leveraging either technology to augment cellular service. It also includes support for Band 14 for U.S. FirstNet public safety products and brand-new life-saving applications.
  • LM940: The LM940 mPCle data card enables high-speed data rates through an advanced LTE and offers a cellular connection for products operating in network appliance environments. Designed for products that require high throughputs such as routers, mobile gateways and access points, the data card ensures a rich and seamless user experience by tapping into the advanced connectivity of 4G LTE. Plus, LM940 is LTE-Advanced because it uses LTE Cat 11 to support download rates as high as 600 Mbps and uploads as fast as 75 Mbps.
  • LE910: The LE910 mPCIe data card addresses the convenience and short development cycle associated with a standard such as mPCle, which can sometimes be more important than speed. Supporting Cat 4 and Cat 1, this addition of mPCIe data card to the portfolio covers speeds of 10/5 Mbps DL/UL with VoLTE for applications requiring voice. The LTE Cat 4 card is rated at 150/50 Mbps DL/UL speeds and delivers the performance of mid-grade cable modems.

If your SD-WAN requires positioning or precision real-time clock performance, all the above data cards support global navigation satellite systems such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou.

Get Ready for the Next Phase of Your Cellular IoT Strategy

These Telit data cards can help your business overcome the complexity, high costs and bandwidth limitations, maximizing the use of today’s LTE networks adaptively across regions and MNOs. For you, this means real-time, high-quality data exchange across cable, DSL, fiber, 4G and 5G with policy-based routing to application-specific traffic.

No more latency, no more limited connectivity and no more lost data — just direct internet access with connectivity guaranteed with a service level agreement and a seamless extension to cloud data centers and mobile devices.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published on 19 March 2018 and has since been updated.