Business today is unlike it’s ever been before. The pace at which the world changes means companies who fail to adapt can end up closing their doors a little further down the line. Think of the high street companies and services that closed because they were overshadowed by those at the forefront of technology and market demands.
Agility is everything. Being able to harness change the second it occurs is the difference between being swept along – or riding the crest of a wave.
Unfortunately, many businesses are tied down by the network that connects them to the digital world. It can’t just be moved or changed on a whim. Does that have to be the case? With leaps forward in cellular technology, perhaps not!
We’ll look at 4G Wider Area Networks: what the technology involves – and how it can be used to drive agile business expansion…
What is 4G?
4G – it’s the symbol that appears at the top of your phone when you’re out and about – but what does it actually mean?
Wireless communication started with 1G – or 1st Generation networks. These first came about in the 1980s, analogue radio waves that could only be used to carry voice calls. In the 1990s, 2G was developed, a digital service that allowed data to be transferred – meaning things like caller ID, text messages and emails could be sent wirelessly.
In the early 2000s mobile internet was brought into our lives. 3rd Generation or 3G connections heralded greater speeds in data transfer – meaning accessing greater amount of data became feasible. Along with this jump forward came reasonable speed mobile internet use.
Although 4G technology differs little from 3G – the biggest development differentiating the two is speed. This increase in speed that mobile data is now able to power your business network.
If 4G is the future for our business network then why can’t we just run our systems from our phones?
The answer is in the sheer amount of data that’s required for such systems to run. A single SIM is designed to handle a fairly large amount of data – but nowhere near enough to feed the required data in and out of a business network. So, if you want more capability – you need more SIMs.
Enterprise level 4G routers are specialist pieces of equipment designed to make the most of SIM technology – they do so by harnessing the power of multiple SIMs and combining that data potential to offer a connection that’s comparable to a wired connection. Some routers will take just 2 SIMs, others can handle 20+.
Bonding and balancing
Depending on your requirement, a 4G router can be configured to either ‘bond’ or ‘load balance’ the data connection from the various SIMs you choose.
If you ‘bond’ you’re effectively putting all the data capability into one connection – the result being steady and robust internet (or wide area network) access that can withstand a severe load and not experience problems if one or two SIMs are out of action.
Should you choose to ‘load balance’ your SIM’s data remains independent and you allocate certain users or applications to each connection – with other connections only becoming available if a SIM fails.
Whatever you choose, your connection to the internet is delivered wirelessly – meaning your router can be picked up and moved at a moment’s notice.
What does this mean for business?
Circuit deliveries are the bane of startup businesses across the country. The network carrier commits to a date – you build your network, business and product launches around it then… a delay. Suddenly there’s additional work needed or your order’s been pushed back – and it’s not uncommon for it to have taken 6 weeks before you’ve even heard about the delay. It’s not secret either, Openreach have received some enormous fines because of such issues.
If you want to set up quickly and without placing the fate of your business in the hands of Openreach, then a 4G router could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Using 4G to drive expansion
- New locations: Found a new location and want to be up and running quickly – keeping ahead of the competition? Working with a managed service provider could see you having a network in place as quickly as 3-4 days.
- Embed an employee: Want to offer a higher level of service to a client but don’t want to rely on their infrastructure? Put an employee in their premises with their own network in a matter of days.
- Out of office connectivity: Would you benefit from having a sales person or engineer on the road? Or would offering people the chance to work from home bolster productivity? Now their home office or company car can offer the same performance as sitting next to your server room.
- Pop-up: Despite the power of internet shopping, 90% of purchases are made in retail outlets. Take advantage of spending habits with the most on-trend marketing ideas and have a pop-up outlet set up in days rather than weeks.
- Expos/shows: Want to impress with your connectivity? Perhaps you want to offer it as a reason for people stopping by your stand? Set up your business with full data connectivity in any location.
How much does it cost?
As with most IT infrastructure – the cost depends on your company’s requirements and your levels of usage. This article offers some helpful guidance on the issue – explaining what you’ll be charged for, different bundles and packages available, some frequently asked questions as well as some tips around monitoring your use and performance.
If 4G is a route that will help you expand and achieve your business goals, consider working with a managed service provider who can have you up and running in day. Business isn’t always about educating yourself – sometimes finding an IT partner who’s already got the experience of using 4G to encourage business expansion is a far faster path to your goal.