The looming 2G/3G shutdown represents an opportunity to deploy future-proof IoT solutions that prioritise network connectivity and security. By acting now, business leaders can enable a clear pathway to 5G in the coming years, says Donna Johnson, VP of product and solution marketing at Cradlepoint
Mobile 2G/3G networks are going away. Some carriers’ shutoff dates are already public and others are yet to be announced, but the end for this technology is inevitable. While many companies and public sector agencies stopped using 2G/3G a long time ago, the shutoff will cause significant turmoil for the hundreds of enterprises that are still using this technology for early IoT use cases or are in the midst of digital transformation journeys.
The turmoil will result in a positive outcome as much of the 2G and 3G spectrum will be repurposed for 5G, but it is nevertheless something organisations need to anticipate. For those that are using it for IoT, this is the ideal opportunity to deploy future-proof IoT solutions that both mitigate the potential network security risks posed by IoT devices and enable the connectivity necessary to future-proof rapidly expanding enterprise networks for innovations. The natural step forward is an upgrade to 4G LTE, but many enterprises are already looking ahead to 5G, which raises questions around timing, deployment strategies, and the best way to future-proof investments.
Innovations in wireless
Many organisations are making the shift to cloud-managed 4G LTE routers and gateways that have built-in modems with multiple SIM slots as a way to accelerate and secure their IoT deployments. 4G LTE is fast — and getting faster. Today, LTE Cat 18 offers up to 1.2Gbps and by the time 5G arrives in 2020, speeds will exceed an impressive 10Gbps. Organisations can harness multiple LTE providers to provide the redundancy they need should connectivity to one carrier be impacted.
The key to success in IoT deployments will be choosing a right-sized wireless edge solution based on specific bandwidth needs and security requirements, whether utilising software-defined perimeter (SDP) technologies to create a perimeter-secured overlay network or using cellular to create a separate, parallel network just for IoT.
Securing the network perimeter
The process of connecting, managing and securing IoT devices and data located around the world comes with a unique set of challenges that includes finding a way to separate IoT devices from sensitive data, such as point-of-sale information and other networks – including the corporate WAN.