Cradlepoint earns Verizon certification for gigabit-LTE router portfolio
Cradlepoint recently announced that its family of fixed and mobile LTE Advanced routers—designed to provide a “pathway to 5G” in the future—have been certified for use on the Verizon network.
“Basically, it makes our entire lineup of gigabit products available on Verizon,” Donna Johnson, Cradlepoint’s vice president of product and solutions marketing, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
Justin Blair, Verizon’s director of business products, said he believes the carrier’s customers will benefit from having the portfolio of LTE Advanced routers available from Cradlepoint, which has been a partner of Verizon for years.
“We’ve got 1,500 different markets where we have LTE Advanced available. It’s great to now have a mobile broadband product that can leverage those speeds.” Blair said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “I think getting to the gigabit LTE speeds is important, whether it’s a fixed application or a mobile application. Now, we’ve got a routing platform from our partners at Cradlepoint that can help us do that.
“I think the other key thing is that it’s a path to 5G. This is now a product that our mutual customers can feel comfortable investing in—it’s a platform that supports the higher throughputs across it. So, when you get to the point that you’ll be able to plug in a 5G antenna, that will now allow you to take advantage of those speeds without having to re-improve your routing platform.”
Johnson clarified that none of the Cradlepoint products now support 5G, but the routers include a slot that will let the hardware be upgraded to support 5G services with the insertion of a module in the future. Although some details are not yet available, Cradlepoint’s product roadmap includes support for both 5G operations on sub-6 GHz spectrum—known as low-band and mid-band—as well as the millimeter-wave airwaves at 24 GHz and above, according to Johnson.
“We are planning on supporting the full spectrum, whereas some companies—I think—are going to stick with sub-6 GHz, because it’s a little more of a known entity,” she said.
Immediately, the Cradlepoint routers support LTE Advanced, which leverages technical characteristics like 256 QAM, 4×4 MIMO and five-carrier aggregation to enable theoretical speeds of 1 GB/s, Johnson said. As is often the case, actual speeds seen by users are less than half the theoretical throughput, she said.
“With gigabit LTE or LTE Advanced Pro—what AT&T calls 5G Evolution—it’s performance profile is better than LTE, although not quite what 5G is,” Johnson said. “We have not seen gigabit performance in the field—that is the theoretical speed. We definitely have not seem that yet. However, what we do see is two to six times the LTE performance … So, for many of our customers, that means they might see 300 MB/s or 400 MB/s on fixed.”
And that kind of data throughput has many customers reassessing the role of wireless in their overall communications architecture, according to Johnson.
“We’re seeing more interest now—with the gigabit capability—in moving from just failover to using it as a primary link, because of the amount of bandwidth that is available,” she said. “Wireless failover often has been thought of as a lifeline, because it didn’t have sufficient bandwidth to support a full branch, whatever that might be. But, with the gigabit speeds, it can actually approach—or even exceed—that of wired connectivity, so people are more able to depend on wireless as a primary link.
“In a fixed-wireless situation, gigabit LTE is faster than many wired options, and it’s dependable. It’s much less likely to go down due to natural disasters or even man-made problems—at least it’s not as susceptible to the same outages [as a wired connection].”
Meanwhile, the Cradlepoint routers’ ability to support dual SIM cards is especially attractive to users needing high network availability or complementary coverage supported by operators other than Verizon. With this announcement, Cradlepoint routers are certified for use on Verizon, AT&T and FirstNet, and the vendor plans to have its products approved for use by other major U.S. carriers and international operators, Johnson said.
Johnson said that the dual-SIM capability is especially popular among public-safety customers.
“Our products can do dual gigabit, which can be really helpful for first responders who want to maintain a connection to two carriers but want both of them to be at the highest [performance] level,” Johnson said. “So, you could do gigabit speeds for both FirstNet and Verizon … in the same vehicle router.
“We are seeing customers adopting that, particularly in the fire units and somewhat in the police units.”
Verizon’s Blair echoed this sentiment.
“The dual SIMs will allow you to provide critical redundancy,” Blair said. “So, this really messages what we’ve said all along. You can continue to rely on Verizon as your primary service provider. We provide that critical access in more square miles than anyone else.
“It allows you to take advantage of all of that. But, if you want to have a FirstNet SIM in the second SIM card slot, you can still have that capability … for dual redundancy and disaster recovery, should anything go wrong in the future.”