LTE networks are something that most of us are already familiar with since almost 95% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind—many of which are LTE-enabled devices operating on cellular data plans.1
However, the LTE we use on our phones to send and receive messages, share stories on Snapchat, and browse the web, can do a lot more for us than we may realize.
As a matter of fact, LTE networks, and eventually 5G networks, will likely become the foundation by which all computing tasks are completed, and will become so ubiquitous that we will wonder how we ever managed without them.
We are, of course, talking about the incoming swarm of Internet of Things (IoT) style devices coming to market, and in just a few short years, nearly everything in our possession will likely be connected to a network of some sort, sending and receiving aggregate data that will hopefully make our lives easier and more enjoyable.
However, there are some critical roadblocks to overcome before we reach this level of connectivity, one of which is the spectrum by which LTE networks can be developed on.
As it stands right now, much of the spectrum needed for an LTE network is locked away behind expensive licensing deals and rules set in place by the government—but things are about to change.
Currently in the works is the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), which aims to reduce spectrum restrictions so that individuals can create and manage their own private LTE networks to support IoT ready devices and other automated systems, which, in the long run, will provide businesses and other organizations with an unprecedented amount of additional productivity and efficiency.
There’s a lot to learn about the prospect of enterprise private networks, and in this article, we will cover everything from understanding what the CBRS is and how it works to the advantages that private LTE networks provide, as well as how they will be used in the future.
What is the CBRS?
Originally proposed to the FCC in 2012, the CBRS was an initiative to open up the 3.5 GHz band (3550-3650) so that new wireless communication services could be developed.2
Previously, this band was reserved for US Naval Radar and for the Department of Defense (DoD), but with proposed rule changes, non-traditional network operators will be able to build and manage their own private mobile network within this range of spectrum.
This isn’t to say that the Navy and the DoD are surrendering their rights to this specific band; on the contrary, the CBRS is governed by a three-tiered authorization framework (i.e., Incumbent Access, Priority Access, General Authorized Access) which provides the DoD with Incumbent Access and protection from interfering sources.
For priority access, Priority Access Licenses (PALs) will have to be acquired through an auction from a Spectrum Allocation Server (SAS) to operate on a 10 megahertz channel in a single census tract (valid for 3 years). The FCC also states that up to seven total PALs may be assigned in any given census tract with up to four PALs going to a single applicant.
Lastly, with General Authorized Access, users are permitted, without a license, to use any portion of the 3550-3650 MHz band not already assigned to a priority or incumbent user.3
Although the official rules for the CBRS are still in limbo, it has the backing of both the major cellular providers (i.e., T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, etc.) and some of the world’s most important technology companies, such as Google, Samsung, Sony, and many others.4
Advantages of Private LTE Networks
One question that frequently comes up is, “Why not just use Wi-Fi?”
Compared to Wi-Fi, private LTE offers higher bandwidth capacity, more predictability, and better security with built-in over-the-air encryption.
On average, LTE technologies can provide mobile data speeds of up to 1 gigabit a second, with 5G promising speeds of up to 10 gigabits a second. On the other hand, Wi-Fi can typically only achieve a real-world performance of up to 300 Mbps.
Additionally, devices connected to a Wi-Fi network need to stay within 300 feet of a wireless router to maintain a reliable connection, which necessitates the use of numerous routers and extenders to achieve a somewhat stable network.
With LTE small cells, only a few antennas would be required to create a reliable and fast network since they possess a range of approximately 10,000 square feet and are designed with scalability in mind. 5
Additionally, LTE-enabled devices, like the smartphones in our pockets, don’t need to be set up to work on an LTE network: they can simply connect and start functioning as soon as they’re turned on.
However, with Wi-Fi enabled devices, a manual interaction is almost always required, which becomes a problem when you have hundreds of internet-ready, IoT devices to manage.
Private LTE Use Cases
With LTE spectrum now being made available to non-traditional network operators, businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to pursue new and exciting network applications across multiple industries, including manufacturing, shipping, health care, and transportation.
Warehouses & Manufacturing
When we think of the future of manufacturing and shipping, we probably imagine mega structures made out of concrete filled with hundreds, if not thousands of automated systems all working harmoniously together to either produce a product or move product from one location to another.
Where are we now? We’re almost there, but there a few obstacles in our way.
Most modern-day warehouses and manufacturing plants that utilize automated systems like robotics rely on hard-wired connections, Wi-Fi, or GPS to perform their day to day functions, which isn’t ideal since these network systems can be unreliable.
Because of this unreliability, the rollout of these technologies in our manufacturing plants has been slower than expected; however, with wireless industrial networks based on LTE, businesses will be able to create an advanced “digital nervous system” for all IoT devices to operate on, bringing unparalleled connectivity, reliability, speed, and safety.
With private LTE networks, manufacturing plants will be able to truly embrace all that the IoT has to offer, which includes full autonomous functionality, a wider range of internet-ready devices, and energy efficiency as LTE networks are low-powered by design.
Hospitals and Healthcare
Just like we saw with manufacturing, private LTE networks can also greatly benefit hospitals and various other healthcare facilities where the number of internet-ready devices being deployed is growing every year.
With a stable and reliable private LTE network in place, medical professionals will be able to receive up-to-date, real-time analysis of their patient’s wellbeing without delay from anywhere within the facility.
From digital thermometers to ventilation machines, nearly every piece of equipment in a hospital can be networked to provide aggregate data, which should help improve the quality of healthcare received by Americans.
While sometimes forgotten, mining still plays an important role in both our economy and in the development of our nation’s infrastructure.
Mining is required for the harvesting of precious metals and other resources; however, mining is an industry that carries with it a certain level of risk, since many mines are either located deep underground or in remote locations that are not easily accessible.
In 2017, the mining industry saw 15 fatalities—fatalities that could’ve likely been prevented with the use of autonomous or remote controlled equipment operating on a private 4G network.6
With a converged WAN built on private LTE broadband, network latency can be reduced to a minimum, allowing for a whole host of different network-enabled devices to come online and seamlessly communicate with each other.
With devices like mining sensors designed to detect soil shifts, private LTE networks can help eliminate some of the risk associated with the mining industry, which will hopefully save lives.7
The Future of LTE Networks
In the future, both LTE and 5G will play an integral role in expanding the capabilities of IoT devices, which means that all companies, no matter the industry, will need to learn how to create, implement, and manage their own high-speed networks.
So, whether we’re ready for it or not, automation and the grand Internet of Things are well on their way. If you’re a business owner, the opportunity to build your own cellular network is something that cannot be overlooked.
Landmark Dividend’s Role
As one of the nation’s largest ground lease acquisition companies, we can help you unlock the hidden value of your cell tower, billboard, wind turbine, or solar farm land lease.
While ground leases can provide property owners with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental payments per year, we can offer you a large, lump-sum cash payment for the entire value of your lease right now, providing you the flexibility to make other financial investments, pursue a new business venture, go back to school, or even retire early.
Additionally, through our Flexgrid program, we can help you develop your own small cell and private LTE network, which as discussed, will be instrumental in a wide variety of different business and municipal applications.
Contact Landmark Dividend
To find out more about how we can help you develop your own small cell or private LTE network, please give us a call today at 1-800-843-2024 or click here to submit your information online.