If your business or IT department is considering buying 4G router, it pays to be making decisions based on solid knowledge. Do you know what 4G is? Do you understand what the technology offers businesses? And do you know what to look for to make sure any 4G router your company buys suits your needs?
We’ll answer all this – and more – to make sure you’re getting a device that’s exactly right for your business IT needs. Before buying 4G router.
Fixed Line alternative
In business and residential settings, most people are used to seeing wired routers – sat in the corner with a broadband telephone line or ethernet cable delivering a connection from the outside world. This router then distributes that connection to the people and devices that need it.
So, what happens when that fixed line isn’t available at your location, or when it’s failed, or when it is taking too long to install? Many businesses get around that by connecting using 4G cellular technology.
What is 4G technology?
We’ve become accustomed to the term ‘4G’ – we see it on our phones and virtually every mobile network provider’s marketing material – but to understand what it is we need to take a look at what preceded the technology.
‘1G’ is the term retrospectively applied to the very first radio transmissions that connected our devices. 1st generation technology came before the digital revolution and as such, could only carry voice. This meant the data were used to, including the most basic things like number displays – just wasn’t feasible.
Small amounts of data would have to wait until the 1990s – when the switch to digital transmissions took hold. Small pieces of data, like text messages and emails, could now be sent wirelessly – paving the way to much greater things…
The subsequent development of 3rd generation – or 3G networks – was an enormous leap forward in what was possible for data. Massively increased amounts of data could now be transmitted – meaning mobile internet use was now possible. In reality, 4G isn’t so different to 3G – the technology is the same, a 4G connection just packs a lot more data and speed – meaning access to full websites and streaming data is now possible.
Why do we need routers?
Since 4G over our telephones and personal computing devices has come so far and works so well – you might be wondering why we don’t just plug your phone into a business network and do away with the wires altogether – and to some degree, you’re on the right path!
The only thing holding us back from doing that is the massive amount of data that most networks require. Think about your home – you can have any number of devices capable of streaming information from the internet – so there’s no way your one connection would keep up – this is even more so for business. It’s handling this increased amount of data where specialist 4G routers come into their own.
Instead of holding just one SIM like your phone, an enterprise level 4G router will be capable of holding between 2 and 20+ SIM cards, meaning the wireless connection that is brought into your business could many, many times faster than your mobile phone. A router also handles the distribution of that connection to all the users at the site.
What’s in it for you?
4G internet access that’s capable of keeping up with the requirements of a business opens the door to a huge number of possibilities:
- Expand – Does the idea of setting up connections for new business locations fill you and your IT team with dread? With 4G there’s no need for that worry – it’s the closest thing you’ll find to a network in a box.
- New location – Don’t be held hostage for months waiting for a circuit provider to install fibre or copper lines – get your 4G network set up in days.
- Working elsewhere – Want to put an employee in a client location? Or give them the opportunity to work from home? No problem, a 4G network makes it far easier than trying to work with someone else’s network or trying to get your own circuit installed.
- On the road – If you want sales or service staff who are based ‘on-the-road’ but don’t want them to have to settle for a restricted connection – a business standard 4G connection could be the way forward.
- Shows and expos – Don’t miss opportunities to show off your brand and service just because you can’t have a wired network in place.
What to look for Buying 4G Router?
There’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ 4G router – each will have differing features and levels of technology. For a full download on 4G networks this guide is indispensable – but for an overview, here are the most important points you’ll see:
- Multi-SIM technology
Some routers (especially at the cheaper end of the market) are designed for personal/very small business use – so instead of offering the numerous SIM slots we’ve mentioned before, they’ll offer just one or two.
If you’re a business user you’ll want to make sure you’ve got at least 2 slots – and that they’ll both be fully functioning connections – in some instances a second slot is just a ‘failover’ in case the first data connection fails.
- Bonding and load balancing
Most 4G routers can be configured in two ways. If you load balance, each of the SIM connections can be attributed to a user or application – if you decide to ‘bond’ your connections the router will combine the data provided by the SIMs creating one higher speed more robust connection.
Bonding is how most businesses configure a 4G router; even if one or more data connection experiences issues, the others are more than likely capable of keeping up with the demand – with little or no end-user impact.
- Traffic prioritisation
It’s common for a business to rely more on one or two of their applications than any of the others combined. This is particularly true of CRM, payment and service systems that have real-time interactions with customers.
A traffic prioritisation system means your router recognises the most important application’s data and ensures this is kept moving even if there’s a heavy load on the connection.
Getting 4G Right for Your Business
There’s no one router device that’s right for every business. You have unique requirements – both from a budget and performance point of view. If you’re not 100% certain that a router is exactly right for you – talking to a managed service provider with experience of setting up 4G networks is a prudent move.
4G can offer your business an incredible amount of flexibility and business agility – and your router will sit at the heart of that network – it pays to choose wisely.