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Private LTE vs. Wi-Fi: Comparing Options for Enterprise Connectivity

Private LTE is quickly emerging as a solution to augment and, in some cases, replace Wi-Fi in enterprise networks. This new market is expected to grow significantly over the next decade and is catching the eye of enterprise-level organizations the industry over.

What Is Private LTE?

LTE stands for long term evolution. Private LTE is simply a standards-based LTE network created for big organizations, such as large corporations, industrial organizations, governments, educational networks and other enterprises. Traditional mobile companies operate private LTE networks, but the enterprise's IT departments, subcontractors or third-party network providers can also manage them. This growing trend will continue with the latest evolution of market expansion.

Which Companies Can Benefit from Using Private LTE?

Big organizations like private LTE networks because they offer a more secure, scalable and resilient solution compared to traditional Wi-Fi connectivity. Think of it like this: A large energy company needs to customize their networks for mission-critical applications and optimize them for low latency with high-level security and devoid of other interferences from an otherwise public network. What is a company to do in this situation? It turns to private LTE, a local cellular network that incorporates nonpublic cell sites and servers that can support a company’s specific requirements outside of what is generally supplied by mobile networks and service providers, all inside the corporate firewall.

Costs associated with the high data transfer volume over public LTE make private LTE more amenable for enterprises, especially when Wi-Fi coverage throughout the enterprise campus is at or above the standard’s capabilities (number of concurrent connections) and is susceptible to competing data transfers on the same radio bands (Wi-Fi uses public spectrum available to other devices in the same area). Wi-Fi also cannot compete with private LTE networks that can support mobility, can enable point-to-point HD/UHD video, native voice support, remote operability, configurable quality of service (QoS) on a class of device basis, and enhanced security robustness in general. Can enterprises dismiss Wi-Fi altogether? Certainly not — especially due to Wi-Fi 6.

What Is Wi-Fi 6?

The next generation of Wi-Fi technology is called Wi-Fi 6. Also known as AX Wi-Fi, it continues upon the current Wi-Fi standard that was created to maintain many devices connected to it. It is not a new way of connecting to the internet but instead an upgrade over previous versions of Wi-Fi (technically called 802.11ac). Wi-Fi 6 is an upgrade to the standard that allows compatible devices to use Wi-Fi signals more efficiently.

Wi-Fi 6 is almost 50 percent faster than the current (fastest) Wi-Fi speed. The technology essentially supercharges routers, enabling them to multitask in ways that have not been possible before. Wi-Fi 6 is engineered to allow network access points, such as routers, to handle higher demand from devices (and ultimately users) while using less power. Of course, this Wi-Fi vs. cellular discussion is about to become even more complicated, thanks to the arrival of 5G.

The Impact of 5G Networks on Private Cellular Networks

Enterprise organizations understand that cellular networks cover larger, wider areas, while Wi-Fi can handle things on a much smaller scale. With the advent of 5G connectivity, enterprises will be able to do things at a significantly faster speed, with greater bandwidth and network capacity. Take that to the private model, and 5G will allow these larger organizations to tap into a network that can handle higher usage without latency — truly rivaling the performance of wired LANs.

These companies will still use Wi-Fi long after private 5G comes into existence. Enterprises can also deploy Wi-Fi easily, and, depending on their locations, set up Wi-Fi 6 well before the arrival of private 5G. Businesses will likely utilize both solutions for years to come.

Telit: An Industry-Leading Expert in Private LTE

Telit, a global enabler of the Internet of Things (IoT), has vetted experience helping organizations support the development, commercialization and adoption of LTE and 5G solutions. Telit was the first top-tier IoT and mobile broadband module vendor to join the CBRS Alliance to help drive innovation and the adoption of private LTE networks, giving enterprises new options for site, campus and office wireless networking.

Contact us today to find out how we can help bring your organization a full-suite IoT solution.