As businesses continue to adopt cloud services for both productivity and efficiency, they are also choosing for an internet-based WAN to enable such services. Some businesses are even looking at full-internet WAN alternatives. Gartner, predicts that by year-end 2021, 70% of large enterprises will rely solely on internet for their WAN connectivity in small and remote branch offices. Twice the 35% in 2017
But taking the internet (hybrid or full-internet) route comes with additional questions & challenges: Do you need robust guarantees on site availability? How do you secure and guarantee diversity? What services are available at your site’s location?
If your answer to the first question is “Yes” but “I am not sure” or “I don’t know” to the next two, Mobile (4G/LTE/5G) should be considered as part of your network design.
Some of the benefits Mobile can provide to your network now are:
“Taking the internet route comes with additional questions & challenges: Do you need robust guarantees on site availability? How do you secure and guarantee diversity? What services are available at your site’s location?”
Mobile broadband is increasingly being included in truly diverse access designs. But that’s not all. As we, at Globalinternet, continue to support enterprises in their internet journey, we see Mobile playing a key role in different scenarios, such as:
Ensuring service uptime is a key focus for IT teams. Using internet services to connect distributed branch offices to cloud services is cost-effective and makes the most efficient use of cloud resources. However, internet services, especially the most cost-effective internet services, often come with longer fix-times and uptime metrics than what’s acceptable for Enterprises – so how can we make the most of these internet services without compromising the uptime of our sites?
Moreover, broadband availability at a given location cannot always guarantee diversity. Generally, with broadband services, separate ISPs may be using the same underlying infrastructure, often from the traditional national incumbent. This means path diversity can be a challenge. In other scenarios, path diversity can only be guaranteed where the same ISP is used to manage the diverse routes, meaning load-balancing between ISPs to take advantage of different routes & peering to the internet is no longer possible – unintentionally negating one of the great advantages of SD-WAN.
Luckily, there’s Mobile. When it comes to outages, mobile connectivity is a great solution to keeping businesses connected while restoring the primary connection. Failover connectivity ensures that businesses are kept online when their primary network fails.
Even better, when adding Mobile as a secondary or tertiary link, redundancy is guaranteed. Mobile is always a fully redundant last mile path and ISP. This means that your site isn’t vulnerable to the challenge mentioned earlier and that you can use Mobile services as an additional route to the internet, allowing your SD-WAN to keep your application performance optimised.
“Mobile is always a fully redundant last mile path and ISP, allowing your SD-WAN to keep your application performance optimised.”
Mobile can be used according to the customer commercial and risk-appetite in this scenario. As a tertiary link, mobile will rarely be called upon making it a very cost-effective “insurance policy” against site downtime, as Mobile services are often based on data consumption.
On average, internet deployments are completed in 6-weeks’ time for urban areas but this can vary dramatically depending on multiple factors, such as location, infrastructure or service availability, local permits, etc.
Depending on your business, it is also possible that “pop-up” sites (for example, a temporary shop for retailers, a mobile healthcare facility or emergency deployments such as command centres) will require connectivity over shorter timeframes.
Good news. The versatility of mobile plays a key role in finding a solution to these scenarios. With widespread availability and adaptability of 4G LTE cellular networks, generally capable of offering speeds and bandwidth comparable to fixed lines, Mobile is a simple and effective method to get connected - quickly, easily, and without compromising performance.
The current global pandemic has added to the reasons for enterprises to choose work-from-home models for their staff. Some are even considering making this a default alternative for the long-run. See: Gartner Survey Reveals 82% of Company Leaders Plan to Allow Employees to Work Remotely Some of the Time
Nevertheless, consumer broadband has its downsides: lack of support and no SLA-based agreements, limited capacity, or having to compete with other users and applications at home, or even the entire neighbourhood.
Mobile (4G/LTE/5G) is able to provide remote staff with a great backup option, and it is cost-effective enough to be provided to all staff for ad-hoc use whenever the local broadband is falling victim to “internet weather”. Furthermore, available eSIM technology can offer users with the best available local connection, and companies can benefit from regional data-pools to maximise economies of scale.
We can’t talk about Mobile without mentioning IoT. Surveillance equipment, vending machines, remote monitoring equipment, smart signage… IoT machines are taking over the buildings and streets.
As cities become “smarter” with IoT, Mobile can offer a simple and effective connectivity solution for these machines, especially when these are placed at third-party locations or hard-to-reach by the building’s router (i.e. a security camera at the basement garage).
Mobile connectivity also provides a great solution for backhauling data from these IoT applications, which are either connected directly with a physical or with a virtual SIM in the device. However, a “freestanding” router can offer additional advantages over a sim-only solution: it is easier to upgrade, it can add additional security features, it’s available from reputable experienced vendors COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) and is well placed to serve as a backhaul-WAN connection for pure IoT networks (ZIGBEE, LORAWAN, Sigfox etc).
5G is expected to offer improved bandwidth, latency and QoS compared with 4G. But deployment by wireless carriers has been slower than expected, and coverage is still limited.
5G allows the possibility for QoS to be properly applied over cellular networks, alongside network segmentation for separate networks (such as enterprise, consumer, IoT, etc.) with different QoS profiles applied over each. The benefit of this is that higher grade networks can be delivered over 5G with guarantees on latency, bandwidth, packet loss, etc. This was not possible or easily achievable within the 4G protocol.
Time will tell whether the possibility for these features will lead to widespread roll-out by operators, Globalinternet is optimistic about the potential positive effects of 5G on the wireless marketplace and is ready to harness the capability available.
“Time will tell whether the possibility for these features will lead to widespread roll-out by operators, Globalinternet is optimistic about the potential positive effects of 5G on the wireless marketplace and is ready to harness the capability available.”
We also expect that the use cases mentioned above (backup, temporary deployments, etc.) for 5G to be similar to those with 4G. However, with improved performance, it’s also expected that the appeal of the technology and the number of applications the underlying connectivity is suitable for will expand.
Dependent on the commercial offering developed by MNOs using their 5G connectivity, we also consider the real possibility for 5G to become a serious contender in providing primary line connectivity competitively, both in price and capability, to traditional fixed-line services. However, we believe this will still take some time for MNOs to “get it right” and so 5G is unlikely to provide a serious large-scale alternative to fixed-line services “out of the gate”.
And you, what do you think?
 How to Use the Internet for Cloud Connectivity Without Performance Disasters (Gartner, July 2019)