Private LTE 101
Most Anterix Active Ecosystem members are aware of the utility industry’s move towards private wireless networks, and these networks are increasingly built out with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to deliver data inaccessible to the public. “LTE” means these networks meet the global standards for this wireless technology (also referred to as “4G,” and soon “5G”).
The “Private” component means the network is owned and controlled by the utility customer. Unlike a public network where the carrier controls communications, a private network enables the utility to control the design and coverage of the network, security and access to the network and the priority of traffic that goes across the network.
BROADBAND VS. NARROWBAND
Narrowband channels, currently used by some utilities for various wireless communications, use only a small part of a given band of wireless spectrum. This is adequate for some slower forms of communication such as voice-only or low volume data streams (e.g., two-way paging and GPS signal transmission).
Broadband uses a wider channel of spectrum, essentially grouping together many narrowband channels into a single, broader channel capable of much faster data transmission. This increased transmission capability is required to handle the increasing data usage of User Equipment (UE) and applications across a utility’s service area.
Additional benefits of broadband include being able to spread the signal across the band for encryption, the ability to block narrow noise sources in the spectrum, and the filter bandwidths are higher. Broadband is used for wireless data networks including LTE and WiFi.
BENEFITS OF LTE
The benefits of incorporating LTE into a wireless communications strategy for utilities are enormous. LTE enables a path towards full Internet of Things (IoT) communication and automation, ensures a utility will always have access to the latest technological improvements, and enables them to benefit from a global device ecosystem which directly translates into better pricing. They will not have to worry about stranding investments in technology and manpower training.
Utilities using connectivity from a commercial mobile carrier will likely see the benefits of LTE. However, a private network augments and amplifies the benefits of LTE by providing something critical to utilities—control.
A Private LTE (PLTE) network gives utilities maximum control over network traffic, subscribers & devices and even the physical deployment of the network itself.
Cyber-security – LTE already has built-in encryption, but a PLTE network takes security to the next level. Over a PLTE network, a utility’s traffic doesn’t need to touch the public internet, significantly reducing the chance their data will fall into the wrong hands and reducing the chance of cyber-attacks.
Quality of Service (QoS) – Unlike using a commercial carrier, by operating their own PLTE network a utility can prioritize and optimize traffic. Critical data can be assured of transmission rather than being queued behind others the carrier has prioritized or getting slowed by congestion.
End-to-End Visibility – When using a commercial carrier, a utility loses visibility of data traffic after it leaves their User Equipment (UE) until it returns to their data center. A PLTE architecture ensures that the utility maintains full view and understanding of the data from its starting point to its endpoint.
Network Configuration – When latency is critical a PLTE network enables utilities to place UE in close proximity to sites to ensure fast transmission, whereas on commercial networks they must rely on the carrier’s best efforts. Utilities gain the ability to dynamically configure their network with real-time resets.
Robust Device Ecosystem – Because Anterix’s 900 MHz spectrum is already within a globally defined LTE standard band, utilities should be able to enjoy all of the benefits of 4G technology and equipment when deploying a Private LTE network with Anterix spectrum. The FCC has also included Anterix’s 900 MHz spectrum in its 5G FAST Plan, indicating the US government backs the company’s spectrum as ideal for 5G, which is an evolution of the LTE standard technology to accommodate a diverse set of mission critical use cases and applications, both now and into the future.
A Broadband Private LTE (PLTE) network, using Anterix’s 900 MHz spectrum, is the critical foundation on which utilities and other Critical Infrastructure (CII) entities can build modernized networks that they fully control.
DELIVERING PLTE TECHNOLOGY TO UTILITIES
Anterix Active Ecosystem members are coalescing around the promise of PLTE networks, and the benefits they can delivery to utilities. There is a significant and accelerating need for this technology in every region of the country, with utilities understanding the substantial return on investment (ROI) PLTE can bring to their businesses, and increasingly private networks are expected to become a necessity for critical infrastructure companies as a baseline.
Working together in the Ecosystem, members will be able to fill the need for PLTE technologies.
Anterix is architecting a new foundation that enables the modernization of critical infrastructure for energy, transportation, logistics and others. Help us spread the word.