Introduction to Broadband and Convergence

What is Broadband?

The Benefits of Broadband Communications

The Benefits of Broadband Communications

We’ve had a look at what makes up Broadband technology. Now I’d like to talk about some of the benefits that mobile broadband communications can deliver. Smartphones show you some of what mobile broadband can offer professional users. Smartphone communications are mainly data oriented. Even voice calls are carried as a form of data. The world of smartphone communications is one of high-speed data, flexible connectivity, location awareness, and apps i.e. business-aware applications. The advantages of better connectivity, better data services, and purpose-built applications can make a huge difference to both day-to-day and emergency operations. Some smartphone applications and devices have moved beyond the limitations of phone calls to reach other users by enabling Push-to-Talk call services over cellular to deliver fast, easy voice connection to individuals and groups. In this way they are imitating the operations of a two-way land mobile radio. Already professional users – from Public Safety, Fire, EMS, utilities, and elsewhere – are packing smartphones alongside their traditional communications devices. And we see organizations that have switched over entirely to mobile broadband. For instance, there are Public Safety and Fire agencies now using their phones and tablets to access databases in the field, saving time and avoiding paper-based systems. In some cities EMS workers use their phones to make ambulance video calls with hospitals and send the results of real-time monitoring of patient vital signs before the patient arrives. Power utilities receive real-time telemetry, site images, and automated analyses of power line faults as well as updated worksheets which they can process while field workers are still on the road. Broadband communications technologies create a high-performance foundation for supporting or building the special applications that can transform your business operations. Here are some of the benefits broadband can bring regardless of the type of your organization:

Extending Your Coverage

With multiple networks such as Wi-Fi and 4G at hand, you can roam across the public networks with their wide and always-on coverage. If required, you can develop your own broadband capability. Some companies have already built Private Wi-Fi and LTE networks to provide dedicated coverage, capacity and performance. Additional coverage is available through smart broadband devices that allow for dual SIM cards, each attached to a different cellular network. These devices will then choose whichever network offers superior coverage at the current location. Many devices can also create a Wi-Fi hotspot. This allows multiple devices to be supported through a single broadband connection. When Wi-Fi hotspots are designed and deployed around vehicles in your fleet, the antennas that are installed will expand the coverage for any surrounding devices. Broadband communications ensure that critical voice and data arrive by the fastest and most reliable method where it’s needed – regardless of network or device type. This creates a more connected and better-informed workforce that can collaborate more effectively. Moreover, existing manual processes can be transformed into automated workflows which shave response times in emergencies as well as reducing the time and effort otherwise expended on routine manual tasks.

Widening Interoperability and Collaboration. Using multiple networks and open standard interfaces, broadband users can connect more easily with teams outside their organization for collaborations or incident response. Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PTToC) enables inter-networking between communications systems, thereby connecting teams across networks.

Enhancing Worker Safety

Worker safety features such as Man Down and Lone Worker may be linked into location communication and automated emergency alerts while operating across different networks. These give you real time visibility, improved situational awareness, and faster, more assured emergency assistance. Data from vehicle telemetry and sensors can be used to monitor and safely manage operations.

Matching Solutions to Business Needs

Since mobile broadband embraces multiple technologies, device types, connectivity options, and purpose-built applications, it is easier than ever to develop and deploy a broadband solution that matches your specific business requirements. You can choose off-the-shelf smartphones or instead find ruggedized or industry specialized devices. The speed and capacity of broadband data means that you can access external data sources, such as the Internet or industry databases directly. You can look for 4G or 5G applications that are customized for your line of business. However, beware of proprietary solutions. You need to ensure that your providers genuinely support open standards. Multivendor compatibility will give you greater freedom of choice and better long-term outcomes.

Better Communications Resilience

Building redundancy into your communications ensures business continuity in case any part of your network becomes unavailable. Dual SIM capability – that I mentioned earlier- not only boosts coverage but gives you multiple levels of redundancy. In the event of an outage of one network, you have instant access to another. Broadband devices have more capabilities that can be harnessed to add resilience to your business operations. You can utilize edge computing to reduce reliance on network availability. Edge computing uses a smart broadband device to process data locally instead of sending it to a remote data center for processing. A field crew for a power company can use a smart device in their vehicle to process their real-time telemetry data on the spot to deliver a fault analysis into their hands straight away. The alternative is for the crew to wait until they get back into comms coverage, send the same data to the data center at HQ for processing, and finally, after a delay, receive the results.

None of this is future technology. It is here and now and can only get better. Mobile broadband solutions are already deployed and in active service, providing broadband benefits to professional communication users.