Don't Be Late to LTE

Alex Brisbourne

For more than a decade, popular opinion suggested that almost any Machine-to-Machine connectivity need could be addressed with 2G technologies. However, richer and more robust applications have become necessities for many organizations, and inevitably require greater bandwidth. Let’s be honest, once a product is better, it becomes the norm, and what we thought could be accomplished with  2G connectivity became less adequate by the day. Simply put, instead of just sending a message, businesses can now draw useful results from robust data quickly, and in more digestible ways.

So where are we now? 2G networks are being shut down, a trend widely regarded as the “2G Sunset”, and will be a thing of the past in the next five years. And 3G networks—all of them—will likely be gone by the end of the decade as well. Not long ago, at the close of 2015, the actual LTE footprint for AT&T was greater than their 3G footprint, and today it is greater than their combined 2G/3G footprint. This leaves organizations with a stark reality: If you don’t have an LTE plan, you won’t have a competitive business.

LTE’s capabilities are no secret, as it combines coverage, IP end-to-end, in-building as well as subterranean accessibility and so much more. And because LTE has already been standardized and adopted by more than 650 carriers around the world, costs are being driven down, making it more accessible. Where the economics work, the flexibility to adopt works. And that is certainly the case now.

The capabilities and price-point are at a very attractive intersection, which should lead to greater adoption in the coming year. By 2020 and beyond, solutions will have to be built around LTE, whether it’s a traditional low-bandwidth application such as fleet tracking, or something that actually requires high bandwidth such as a video security application.  Those rich applications are going to be in the mix, but frankly you’re going to need LTE for the less rich applications, too.

Some may ask, “What guarantee do we have that, after investing a great deal of time and resources into adopting LTE, it won’t quickly be replaced by something more advanced?” We can assume that eventually, LTE will outlive its usefulness. However, it is a very safe bet that it won’t be any time soon. We can reliably forecast that LTE will be the standard-bearer for the next 15 years. LTE is a very broad structural set of standards, which we see today as only the very first step. There are multiple networks within the LTE standard, both at a device level and at a network technology level, that are designed to scale upwards to much higher bandwidth applications. There are also developments being made to the LTE spectrum, such as CAT-0 and CAT-1 technologies, designed specifically to “replace” 2G and cater to those companies who don’t require the bandwidth and speeds associated with traditional 4G LTE.

If you intend to run an IoT-enabled business five years from now, it’s time to jump to LTE.

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