Author: Tronserve admin
Tuesday 3rd August 2021 12:06 AM
Private Wireless Networks Offer a Secure Solution for Digital Transformation
Many organizations, when they initially install wireless IoT devices, are using their existing WiFi and Bluetooth access points to connect off-the-shelf sensors and other devices. And since, most times, they connected those devices to the main corporate network, several security and performance issues arise.
WiFi and Bluetooth are not suitable for wide-area IoT applications, as the range of their access points is limited to a few meters, and require devices using substantial power to keep stable connectivity. Low-power, battery-operated IoT devices, such as simple sensors and actuators, require long-range, low-power communication standards such as LoRa, NB-IoT, or Zigbee.
Cellular networks, especially the ones offering low-power LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies, provide reliable security and wide-area connectivity. Some mobile infrastructure providers, such as Huawei and Nokia, are offering private LTE networks to medium and large corporate customers, with off-the-shelf solutions that make the initial investment easier to control.
Typical use cases for private networks are large areas such as airports, mines, factories, warehouses, power plants, ships, and stadiums.
Image courtesy of Nokia Networks
Once implemented, a private wireless network offers enterprises and other organizations substantial benefits, including:
- Strong security and isolation: Depending on the wireless protocol and encryption, a private IoT network won’t allow any other device to connect to it, thereby providing isolation against external threats.
- Comprehensive edge computing capabilities: Keeping all IoT devices on a secure, local network, increases edge computing applications’ performance and analytics.
- Low-latency and reliability: Despite the promise of safety and low-latency of the new 5G networks, a local network can provide the same functionality without depending on an external service provider. Additionally, 5G networks are still in the early stage of deployment and spectrum availability.
- Cost control: While it requires an initial investment, a private wireless network allows organizations to control ongoing costs, as external providers collect usage fees.
A private wireless network doesn’t solve all the challenges of operating an IoT platform. And there are some potential drawbacks on using a private network:
- Requires in-house expertise: Installing and managing a private wireless network requires some basic technical knowledge that not all organizations have. They would need to hire the necessary service reps or an external firm to provide the service.
- Make difficult to calculate ROI: Since it requires initial CapEx, it becomes more difficult to calculate the return on investment of a private network against an external offering.
- Potential obsolescence: Depending on the application, investing in equipment needs to take obsolescence into account. Devices such as smart meters and simple sensors can operate for many years without the need to upgrade the gateways. Future, more demanding IoT devices, could require better connectivity than the initial network can provide.
- Difficult to forecast scalability: Similarly to private clouds, a private wireless network could run into problems when needed to scale up. Adding more gateways or access points could solve this initial hurdle.
Deciding to implement on a private wireless network for IoT, as with any other digital transformation project, needs to consider many factors and different options and benefits.
During the next few weeks, we’ll be evaluating the main offerings of different suppliers and features of several technologies. Also, during the Mobile World Congress, we’ll be talking with some of the companies offering private wireless networks.