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March 25, 2015

Is it Time to Accept that 4G is the Only Road Forward?

I heard lots of conversations this week about the state of wireless connectivity and migration. While some companies are assuring their customers that 3G is safe and some are ripping out 2G networks, there’s an interesting webinar on the issue this week from Cradlepoint. While the consumer market is in constant rotation, the enterprise is slower to move and concerned about its migration strategy.

When looking at the rationale to make the move to LTE, few issues remain from the implementation side of the equation. VoLTE implementation is in various stages of movement and ‘pseudo-wire’ is disappearing.  However, since LTE fundamentally is about supporting data and since the Internet has tripled in size in the last decade, the analysis of making the switch seems to have an imperative mostly from volume.

The reality is that the capital expenditures on the network are going to manage the unrelenting data requirements. So from a network of the future standpoint, the best you can hope for with 3G (and 2G if available) is what you have now. If there are holes in the network where you are (and don’t let the commercials with maps fool you), the best hope you have is that you are near consumer demand.

In addition, systems like Cradlepoint and other gateways have the ability to support aggregated traffic including Wi-Fi, Web, VoIP, video and, of course, IoT.

The only obstacle then is one of price on the chipsets which, at this point, should be seeing the normal decline of mass production that all silicon enjoys.

The bottom line is, legacy 2G and 3G implementations have to incorporate a migration plan.  The mobile Internet is accelerating the transition and we have to shorten the lifecycle. For the carriers, the traffic on the legacy networks is so marginal that the cost of migration is more favorable than maintenance. You may not be the only customer using the legacy networks, but you definitely don’t want to be the last one.

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