Why Build a Secure, Business-Grade Multilocation 4G Wireless Network?

I’ve been hearing for a while that the benefits of keeping a distributed enterprise connected wirelessly, could provide one of those rare occasions where CFOs and CTOs can actually agree on something.

As 4G networks from the major carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile continue to grow in coverage, speed and reliability, I began to consider whether I could tie multipleGetting Free From POTS locations together via 4G rather than using the public WAN or a dedicated, managed service from one of the major providers. Then, if it were possible, could it be done so that I also got the quality of service my applications required at a cost lower than conventional MPLS solutions using VPN? Furthermore, would it make sense to build a multi-location 4G wireless network to serve as a backup in the event of catastrophic failure of hard-wired solutions?

I had a lot of questions and my first step in getting answers involved looking at speed and coverage the various 4G providers deliver, as I had no dreams of approaching the FCC to setup my own 4G infrastructure.

I found the interactive graph at OpenSignal.com (hover your mouse over the flag of the country you’re interested in). That gave me an overview of download speeds and coverage from the major providers, although I quickly realized I needed to look at speed and coverage at each of my locations. Fortunately, a free app from OpenSignal.com, which describes itself as “the global authority on wireless networks,”  offered all the data I needed. Their 3G 4G WiFi Maps & Speed Test app showed me which carriers offer the best service at each location, including download, upload and latency statistics.

Armed with information on the carrier that delivered the best overall coverage and speed in my area, I asked our IT people at each remote location to measure speed and latency inside each room.  In doing that, we found that some locations needed a signal booster and/or a high gain antenna on the roof to overcome the attenuation caused by the brick and mortar certain buildings interposed between the cell tower and the computer room.

Finally, I looked at various appliances that provide an interface between the 4G signal and the local area network. I considered several important issues, including remote management of the appliance; monitoring (and automatic reporting alarms) when latency or speed fell below acceptable values; load balancing and fail-over capabilities; and the ability to route traffic via conventional terrestrial networks.

Data Transfer Through 4GThis last issue is critical. Having a 4G network doesn’t mean it should be used for all traffic because 4G is metered and can be expensive. There’s no reason to pay for data transfer via 4G that can be handled more economically over non-metered terrestrial means.

If you’re considering a 4G network as an alternate path for your data as a backup for terrestrial traffic during an outage or to connect services like VoiP between you business locations, feel free to reach out. We would be glad to assist or point you to a trustworthy, local solution provider.

Additional Resources:

Whitepaper on building a 4G WAN

4G WAN Glossary

DECT 6.0 Helps You Get Rid of Business Phone System Wiring Nightmares

Whether you’re opening a new office and need phones, or planning to update your existing phone system, there’s a technology you need to know about that eliminates phone system wiring hassles and expense.DECT 6.0 Saving The Day From POTS

With only one phone jack in the entire office it lets you put four cordless phones in service with no need to run cabling, no need to install phone jacks at each desk, and no need for any servers or computers. It’s simple, reliable and economical. It’s called DECT 6.0.

Well, maybe I should clarify that last statement. If you’re still using POTS (the “plain old telephone system”, aka the monopoly phone company) you don’t need any computers or servers. But if you have moved (or are about to move) to VoIP, of course you’ll need a computer that connects you to the Internet.

So, what is DECT 6.0?

It stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications. It’s an industry standard that defines how dial tone can be passed via radio signals to a cordless phone.  A DECT phone system comes with a base unit. It plugs into the phone jack that delivers dial tone into your office or building. When you make or receive a call, your cordless handset communicates by radio with the base unit. DECT phones are digital, not the analog cordless phones of years past.

How Does DECT Help You?

• The DECT cordless technology works whether your dial tone is delivered by a POTS phone line or a digital VoIP line. If you’re still using POTS but plan to upgrade to VoIP, your DECT phone will continue to serve you well
• DECT phones are cordless and convenient. Many can be used with headsets, giving you continuous communication no matter where in the office you may be
• If you’re currently running voice over your data network and do not have quality of service (QoS) technology installed, DECT will eliminate the dropped words, noise, static and distortion your phone system probably generates
• You can forget about the complexity of punch-down panels, wiring closets and cabling when you switch to DECT. It eliminates the costly nightmare of pulling phone cables through the walls and ceilings when you need a phone in a new location

Is DECT Right for You?

The original DECT 6.0 technology limits the number of cordless handsets to four. Subsequently, manufacturers (such as Spectralink) have extended the capability of DECT 6.0 using proprietary hardware to support more than 4,000 phones. However that’s a much more complex and expensive solution. I want to focus on the simplicity of DECT for small businesses in this article.

Clearly, a company with a boat load of inside sales reps dialing out or receiving calls all day isn’t a good prospect for a four-line DECT phone. Yet for millions of small businesses DECT makes the perfect phone system. Retailers, service companies (think lawn care, plumbers, electricians, contractors, medical and dental offices) and others who rely primarily on face-to-face contact with customers rather than phone contact, are ideal candidates for DECT.

DECT phones have been available in the U.S. since 2005.  Manufacturers competing for market share have differentiated their products and added important features. For instance, you can buy DECT phones with Bluetooth to link with one or more cell phones, allowing you to make or receive cell phone calls at your cordless handset. If you’d like to learn more, check in at Cordless-Phone-Update.com for their summary of phones and the overall DECT marketplace.