If we look back at the plethora of wireless technologies – the now forgotten infrared, Bluetooth, ubiquitous Wi-Fi, GSM, WiMAX, 3G, and LTE – it’s fair to say that LTE is one of the most successful technologies ever. LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now. In practice,
One reason why 5G hasn’t been deployed yet is that everyone is still happy with 4G. But more than that, LTE technology is still young and fresh and continues to serve us well. And it’s set to revolutionize industrial communications. Why?
1) It’s flexible for enterprises
And that’s where LTE’s “second youth” comes in – it will co-exist alongside 5G, not be replaced by it.
One reason for the consistency of the railway networks across all the European countries lies with the unified standard. Normally industrial networks, like those used on railways, in public safety, mining or airports, have a much longer iteration cycle. As with the GSM-R in the future, we skipped the 3G protocol to jump directly to LTE-backed systems. GSM-R is not just the same network that we used personally before – it’s a GSM network engineered for trains and that’s the main secret of its longevity.
2) It will underpin IoT
eLTE ─ the private LTE network ─ is used by the police, emergency services, and engineers for real-time voice and video communication. And LTE, either public or private, is becoming a major technology for smart things.
LTE serves as the basis for multiple technologies, like NB-IoT, LTE-M, LTE-A. Together these fit all possible scenarios for connected things.
NB-IoT connects outdoor and indoor devices with extremely low power consumption. We simply embed a battery in the device and charge it once for its whole lifetime – up to 10 years. For enterprises NB-IoT means better business. Benefits include better asset utilization and features like predictive maintenance, the ability to convert products to services and add wrap-around services, and more personalized offerings.
LTE-M is for applications where we need a more data-intensive transfer of messages with lower latency.
LTE-A (LTE-advanced) offers faster speeds and suits applications like cameras, Automated Guided Vehicles, and drones; for example, drones connected by LTE can backhaul data back to a command center.
Enterprises can therefore flexibly deploy connectivity using different flavors of LTE at the core.
3) Its security credentials are proven
LTE has shown itself to be robust after being used on a massive scale for a decade. One of the reason technologies stall is because of the major concerns on security.
LTE is a well-positioned technology to deal with that kind of challenge based on features like AES256 encryption, session-based encryption keys, and SIM authentication
4) It benefits from industry support
Sometimes the survival of a technology depends on its ability to attract more supporters than a competing one, WiMAX being an example of a technology that failed to – it quickly became a very niche solution.
In contrast, LTE has been deployed widely across the globe and new versions are being developed to meet the different needs of industry verticals, as companies continuously invest in it and add up new features.
In essence, all local mobile networks use the same LTE technology, so roaming can be done gracefully. For logistics, LTE connectivity is a huge source of business opportunityby connecting everything on only one network, including cameras, people, robots, and sensors. It can also support for mobile robots like AGVs and provide high-quality coverage of every square centimeter of a warehouse.
5) Engineers are familiar with it
There are enough engineers to support the rollout of these industrial networks, as the experience they accumulated in carrier domain can be easily applied elsewhere.
6) It’s affordable
For technology to fly it must be affordable. And this tends to happen when it’s adopted on a wide scale. Now, NB-IoT coverage is available everywhere in China, bringing the cost per connection down as more devices join the network. It’s already proving its worth in agriculture by connecting cows and its use cases will only increase.
With its increasing maturity, the potential for LTE looks better than ever and the technology indeed promises to evolve over the long-term.
Click on the link for more information about Huawei’s eLTE solutions.