The 4G WAN features for small business and home network. 4G is becoming an increasingly popular connectivity choice for organisations of all sizes. In a world where business agility is the only way to make sure you’re at the front of the queue when opportunities arise – being able to set up a wide area network (WAN) at short notice gives you the responsiveness you need.
When time is of the essence, a managed service provider can have your site connected in just a couple of days – and while that might give them superhero status from your company’s point of view – it’s a combination of experience, preparation and the right equipment that means they can act so quickly.
We’ll have a look at what’s found in a 4G ‘Rapid Site Deployment’ box – explain a little about how each element works – and what it could mean to your business.
What is 4G WAN Features?
Before exploring the technology in detail – it’s useful to know what 4G WAN is.
Essentially, 4G WAN is the use of SIM cards and cellular data to create a circuit that connects a business site to the other sites on its WAN. So, rather than the site being connected to the WAN via a fixed line such as DSL, EFM or a fibre Ethernet circuit, it’s connected wirelessly. Of course, it should go without saying that when using 4G technology to connect business sites, the performance and reliability required is far higher than when using 4G for an individual. Also, 4G can be used to connect a site either to the WAN or the internet.
The benefits of 4G WAN
The flexible nature of working without cables means 4G offers some significant benefits to an organisation – the most commonly sought are:
- Mobile deployment – With engineers, service and sales personnel in the field, 4G WAN can connect company vehicles to the WAN or internet as easily as permanent locations.
- Temporary business locations – If you’ve got temporary business premises, shows, expos, sites or client premises from which you work – 4G WAN gives you quick and secure enterprise level access to your network.
- Waiting for a circuit? – Installation times for business ethernet and fibre circuits are notoriously long and often experience significant unexpected delays. 4G WAN can be a highspeed stop-gap until your circuit is in place.
- Backup network – When disaster strikes a 4G Rapid Site Deployment service can have your business operating again at a fraction of the time it would take to remedy significant network problems.
A walk-through video of a 4G Rapid Site Deployment kit can be viewed here – but as an overview, this is what you can expect to be included:
It might seem a detail too far to focus on the case the 4G WAN kit comes boxed in – but in a lot of instances, it’s an important part of the kit.
4G WAN solutions are used by some industries that require strong solutions – there’s every chance a kit could find itself on a boat or helicopter heading for a remote drilling, construction or exploration site – just as it could end up in city centre office. A rapid site deployment solution is equipped for any environment.
VPN 4G Router
At the heart of the kit is a VPN 4G Router.
This type of router will be preconfigured by a managed provider who will establish and understand your requirements before the kit reaches you. The cellular connection is created with the addition of SIMs to the router. Most routers will have the capacity to hold some SIMs – anywhere between 2 and 20+.
These SIMs are provided by two or more cellular network providers. Should there be any problem with one network, connectivity will not be lost, meaning your network stays up no matter what. SIMs can be configured (and re-configured) according to the coverage available and the capacity required.
The data connection that’s established by using SIMs is usually combined or ‘bonded’ by the router software to create one fast and robust connection.
The aerial needed for your installation will depend on some variables. Generally speaking, a 4G WAN solution will come with indoor aerials – in most instances, the signal is strong enough for 4G to be picked up by these aerials – and there will be two (appropriately spaced) as is the norm for 4G connectivity.
However – as we’ve previously noted, 4G WAN features boxes will often find themselves in remote and inhospitable areas, so other options are also frequently provided:
- Exterior aerials: In many instances – rigs, construction sites, mining and so forth – there will be objects that shield the router from establishing a real connection. In cases like this an exterior aerial will be required.
- Directional high gain aerials: In instances where a 4G box is deployed a long way from cell masts, a larger ‘high gain’ aerial can be mounted to an external wall or on poles before being correctly orientated for maximum effectiveness.
While the components listed are all that is physically required to put the network into place – there’s also a lot of configuration and support that needs to happen behind the scenes. The managed network provider who’s supplying the service will also:
- Provide and configure the SIMs from appropriate cellular networks to ensure you get the performance required.
- Install the required switches and access points.
- Monitor the performance of your WAN (ideally 24/7).
- Monitor the cellular usage and support you to manage that – making adjustments on your behalf if required.
- Establish a plan for migrating your network to a more permanent solution if required.
4G rapid site deployment vs. circuit installation
It’s when you compare the setup times of the different network connection options that you can see why so many organisations opt for 4G WAN. Openreach currently quotes around 60 days to install a fibre Ethernet connection – and in a lot of instances, this timescale will see significant delays when construction work is required for a line to reach your premises.
An experienced managed service provider could have your 4G WAN features solution up and run within 2-3 days. They’ll begin with a cellular site survey – this will help establish which mobile carrier(s) can provide the best cellular coverage and how many SIMs you’d require meeting your business needs.
If being responsive is the key to your company winning or keeping customers, a 4G WAN deployment managed by the right company could be the key to success.