It’s 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Filled with excitement and anticipation, I watched as my hot air balloon, the last one in the bunch, inflated. Around me, one after another, balloons started to float effortlessly off the ground into the air. The Napa Valley’s sun glittered in the distant as my balloon finally took off. At 1,050 feet, some fogs rolled by, then I saw it: a shadow of my balloon in the fog encircled by a rainbow – see the picture above. I quickly pulled out my iPhone 6, snapped a panorama, and posted it on Facebook. It was the most mesmerizing experience ever, not just because of the experience itself, but also because I can share it with my families and friends via 4G LTE. However, 4G LTE isn’t just for smartphones.
Connecting the Unconnected
The world of things, a.k.a Internet of Things (#IoT), around us is connecting in ways beyond imagination. According to a November 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review, “Smart, connected products are changing how value is created…(and) will affect the trajectory of the overall economy, giving rise to the next era of IT-driven productivity growthfor companies, their customers, and the global economy.” For example, just-in-time inventory replenishment, powered by connected vending machines, enables one business to capitalize on OpEx savings and increase revenue per unit. Wireless monitoring allows an oil and gas company to quickly respond to pipeline issues in rugged, remote locations. Connected lightning empowers one smart city to reduce crime rate and improve its residents’ quality of life. Even one’s personal space, such as the home, is becoming more connected with the use of #WEMO products and smart devices integration (those coming to #CES, you must see the Connected Home demo). This Digital Transformation, powered by 4G LTE, brings about considerable improvements in the ways we work, live, and play.
Connecting that Last Mile
For IT, such IoT connects the previously unconnected, creating new opportunities to deliver speed, scale, and value for Line of Businesses. Usually that is the case in most environments, except when it comes to unwired locations, i.e. remote or nomadic locations, rugged terrains that lack a wired internet infrastructure. How do you connect the unwired? The answer is 4G LTE.
One of the main benefits of 4G LTE is OpEx savings. As an alternative link, in place of MPLS or wired internet line, the reduction in costs could be at least three fold. A few proven use cases such as connected ATM machines, POS, and kiosks, have successfully leveraged 4G LTE.
Organizations that made the leap, as much as 50% used 4G LTE connection as the backup link. Some benefits of wireless connectivity are a) not prone to tampering and b) timely emergency connectivity during outages. In situation A, a wire line can be physically cut, when, in most locations, the primary and backup MPLS are co-located. As for situation B, natural disasters such as hurricane Sandy could take out a regional wired link for a period of time. In both situations, 4G LTE is an effective and true WAN backup.
My Organization Doesn’t Need 4G LTE.
I would caution those that quickly come to such conclusion. There is value harnessed by 4G LTE beyond CapEx and OpEx savings. Enterprises that only assess the present are blind sighted by the possibility and innovation 4G LTE could bring to its top line or add to its competitive differentiation. Businesses across verticals are harnessing 4G LTE to ride the Digital Transformation – see Figure 1. (Here is a collection of case studies across verticals for your perusal.)
Figure 1: Market Verticals Addressed by 4G LTE
So, what drive organizations to adopt 4G LTE? Let’s examine the reasons Markets and Markets states in its 2014 research.
Expanding businesses need options to bring fixed, temporary, and mobile sites online fast.
Networking communications are shifting from wired to wireless links because of their deployment flexibility and affordable cost.
Machine-to-machine (M2M) apps proliferate as the Internet of Things (#IoT) explodes.
They often require links to unwired, hard-to-reach places.
In 2015, there will be twice as many devices as there are people.
Determining the need for 4G LTE
To conclude whether your organization has a need now or will have a need in the future for 4G LTE, ask your Line of Business the following questions:
1. Disaster Recovery – Will our organization ever have a need for end-to-end redundant connections and backup?
2. Early Deployments – Will our organization ever have a need for deployment in remote, temporary, rugged terrains, or in locations that are hard to reach?
3. Temporary/Nomadic Deployments – Will our organization ever have a need for short-term/nomadic deployments, such as trade shows, temporary market assessment, and nomadic businesses in uncertain economic conditions?
Almost 4 out of 5 businesses across verticals will answer ‘yes’ to at least one of three questions. Knowing the answer is half the battle. Being ready is an equally critical half. So, where should you begin?
Learn More on June 24
On June 24th, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Pacific Time, Alex Sahu, Cisco Product Manager, will present a live WebEx webinar on “Is Your Organization Ready for 4G LTE?” Here’s the agenda at-a-glance.
Impacts of IoT/IoE
Unconventional WAN Challenges (in the Digital World)
Until then, check out a @TechwiseTV video by Robb Boyd as an at-a-glance (click on image to play).
(Now, back to my hot air balloon adventure)
Share Your 4G LTE Stories
Until the day Google perfects Project Loon (#ProjectLoon), balloon-powered Internet in the stratosphere (also leveraging LTE), 4G LTE continues to power my work, my life, and my learning in the Earth’s troposphere. How have 4G LTE impacted your life? Share your stories with me on Twitter @annaduong using hashtag #4GLTE.