Mobility and SD-WAN, Part 1: SD-WAN with 4G LTE is a Reality

Without a doubt, 5G — the fifth generation of mobile wireless technology — is the hottest topic in wireless circles today. You can’t throw a stone without hitting 5G news. While telecommunications providers are in a heated competition to roll out 5G, it’s important to reflect on current 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) business solutions as a preview of what we have learned and what’s possible.

This is part one of a two-part blog series that will explore the SD-WAN journey through the evolution of these wireless technologies.

Mobile SD-WAN is a reality

4G LTE commercialization continues to expand. According to the GSM (Groupe Spéciale Mobile) Association[1], 710 operators have rolled out 4G LTE in 217 countries, reaching 83 percent of the world’s population. The evolution of 4G is transforming the mobile industry and is setting the stage for the advent of 5G.

Mobile connectivity is increasingly integrated with SD-WAN, along with MPLS and broadband WAN services today. 4G LTE represents a very attractive transport alternative, as a backup or even an active member of the WAN transport mix to connect users to critical business applications. And in some cases, 4G LTE might be the only choice in locations where fixed lines aren’t available or reachable. Furthermore, an SD-WAN can optimize 4G LTE connectivity and bring new levels of performance and availability to mobile-based business use cases by selecting the best path available across several 4G LTE connections.

Increasing application performance and availability with 4G LTE

Silver Peak has partnered with BEC Technologies to create a joint solution that enables customers to incorporate one or more low-cost 4G LTE services into any Unity EdgeConnect™ SD-WAN edge platform deployment. All the capabilities of the EdgeConnect platform are supported across LTE links including packet-based link bonding, dynamic path control, path conditioning along with the optional Unity Boost™ WAN Optimization performance pack. This ensures always-consistent, always-available application performance even in the event of an outage or degraded service.

EdgeConnect also incorporates sophisticated NAT traversal technology that eliminates the requirement for provisioning the LTE service with extra-cost static IP addresses. The Silver Peak Unity Orchestrator™ management software enables the prioritization of LTE bandwidth usage based on branch and application requirements – active-active or backup-only. This solution is ideal in retail point-of-sale and other deployment use cases where always-available WAN connectivity is critical for the business.

Automated SD-WAN enables innovative services

An example of an innovative mobile SD-WAN service is swyMed’s DOT Telemedicine Backpack powered by the EdgeConnect Ultra Small hardware platform. This integrated telemedicine solution enables first responders to connect to doctors and communicate patient vital statistics and real-time video anywhere, any time, greatly improving and expediting care for emergency patients. Using a lifesaving backpack provisioned with two LTE services from different carriers, EdgeConnect continuously monitors the underlying 4G LTE services for packet loss, latency and jitter. In the case of transport failure or brownout, EdgeConnect automatically initiates a sub-second failover so that voice, video and data connections continue without interruption over the remaining active 4G service. By bonding the two LTE links together with the EdgeConnect SD-WAN, swyMed can achieve an aggregate signal quality in excess of 90 percent, bringing mobile telemedicine to areas that would have been impossible in the past due to poor signal strength.

To learn more about SD-WAN and the unique advantages that SD-WAN provides to enterprises across all industries, visit the SD-WAN Explained page on our website.

Prepare for the 5G future

In summary, the adoption of 4G LTE is a reality. Service providers are taking advantage of the distinct benefits of SD-WAN to offer managed SD-WAN services that leverage 4G LTE.

As the race for the 5G gains momentum, service providers are sure to look for ways to drive new revenue streams to capitalize on their initial investments. Stay tuned for part 2 of this 2-blog series where I will discuss how SD-WAN is one of the technologies that can help service providers to transition from 4G to 5G and enable the monetization of a new wave of managed 5G services.