What is Private LTE and How Does It Compare to Wi-Fi?
Private LTE is a technology currently built on 4G LTE, the same technology used by cellular networks, which offers wireless communication to private entities such as hospitals. It operates in the 3.5GHz band, or Band 48, on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service network, whereas Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Because they operate on different frequencies, private LTE and Wi-Fi networks can be used simultaneously.
Private LTE has a longer reach than Wi-Fi, so it requires fewer access points. One private LTE access point is equivalent to approximately four or five Wi-Fi access points. While it provides a quality signal with little latency, private LTE does deliver less bandwidth. Wi-Fi produces significantly more throughput than private LTE.
How Private LTE Can Benefit Healthcare Organizations
Healthcare organizations’ Wi-Fi networks support an increasing number of mobile devices and Internet of Things technologies. Additionally, many hospitals’ Wi-Fi networks have location tracking so that administrators know where everyone is in case a problem arises.
Offloading those devices from Wi-Fi to a private LTE network allows facilities to support the devices in a more cost-effective way with fewer access points. Healthcare organizations could spend 30 to 40 percent less on wireless connectivity by moving devices from Wi-Fi to private LTE networks.
Private LTE Deployment Challenges and Solutions
It’s important to find the right partner to deploy private LTE. Access point installation requires knowledge of LTE cellular technology, networking and cabling. Someone also must physically install the equipment. However, the management technology isn’t much different than that of Wi-Fi.
Another challenge involves client devices. When purchasing a laptop or other mobile device, healthcare IT professionals should look at the device specifications to ensure it has CBRS (B48) capabilities. Most new mobile devices have CBRS or private LTE antennas, but they need a SIM card to access the network. For devices without CBRS capabilities, a USB dongle can plug into a laptop to allow it onto CBRS.
Healthcare organizations interested in implementing private LTE networks can reach out to their CDW account managers for more information.