4G: The new enterprise network


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Why three companies chose 4G and what they're doing with it

Wired networks run enterprises, but as more companies seek agile networks for mobile and customer-facing applications, and backups for their fixed networks, they are being drawn to 4G.

In the United Kingdom alone, according to a March 2013 survey by Vanson Bourne of over 200 IT decision-makers in organizations with at least 500 employees, some 60% said they want to take advantage of 4G in the near future.

Among newly minted 4G adopters in the U.S. are Barclays Center, United Oil and Hangers Cleaners, which run very different types of businesses but chose to implement 4G to complement their wired networks.

For load balancing and failover, Barclays runs Border Gateway Protocol. The precise routing pathways to ISPs are automated, based on business rules that Barclays Center provides. "This assures us that our communications will always be running, even if one ISP develops a problem," said Foley.

"If fans can't call, text or tweet during a basketball game, their fan experience is going to be compromised," he explains. When the arena first opened in September 2012, "we had all of our 4G carriers implemented except one," Foley says, and yet they still "got complaints. In our business, fans expect 4G LTE service.

"On the wired network side," he continues, "it was challenging to get infrastructure pulled through the facility, and to establish actual pathways to run lines to trailers with 4G communications." Barclays Center uses a series of trailers on the periphery of the arena to provide 4G service. A distributed antenna system links 4G modems in the trailers to 4G LTE service from all the major carriers that service Brooklyn.

De La Espriella explains that when a problem area is identified, Verizon sends technicians to conduct a site survey. "If the survey shows that the cellular signal is strong, we then have to look at our facility. Most gas stations are generally just metal boxes, so cellular signals can be degraded in such an environment," he says.

Hangers Cleaners: Getting data to run the business

"When I started in the dry cleaning business 10 years ago, I thought I would have stores on every corner," says Joe Runyan, owner and president of Kansas City's Hangers Cleaners. "But I couldn't readily secure leases, so I spent the money instead on a processing facility and I invested in vans."

Pleased with 4G, Runyan is already busy strategizing for a next generation of 4G applications.

4G networks

"We want to use our wireless system to increment our revenue," he said. "One way that we can do this is to have our internal systems talk to our point of sale (POS) system, derive business intelligence [about] our customers, and then push out messages in various neighborhoods that we serve." These messages might be "Our driver will be in your neighborhood in 30 minutes," which could stimulate a customer to place an order, or it might be a message like "We just dropped off your dry cleaning," which improves customer service.

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