Sierra Wireless 5G vehicle router commercially available
Sierra Wireless this week announced the commercial availability of the AirLink MG90 5G platform, which company officials tout as the first multinetwork 5G vehicle router solution for critical-communications users.
Dave Markland, the director of product management at Sierra Wireless, said the MG90 5G is designed to let users in the utility, transit and public-safety sectors leverage both 4G LTE to 5G connectivity—even using multiple carrier networks—smoothly as service providers transform their systems to 5G.
“We built the MG90 5G to help [end users] migrate,” Markland said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It is a new device. There are enhancements inside to support 5G, and the 5G radios draw more power and generate more heat. So, we’ve had to evolve the MG90 5G to support that. But otherwise, to look at it, it’s the same form, fit, function and the same operating system—the same management solution and the same VPN solution.
“We’ve done that so that the installers that are familiar with installing it know how to deploy that already. If they have integrations—like sending the GPS position into their dispatch system—that will all carry forward. They won’t have to retrain their staff who use the management system. So, the entire solution carries forward, but it is a new device in the vehicle.”
Tom Mueller, vice president of enterprise networking products for Sierra Wireless, expressed excitement about the launch of the MG90 5G.
“With the AirLink MG90 5G, Sierra Wireless has delivered the first 5G router solution that’s purpose-built to meet the challenges of moving vehicles, with patented technology to deliver the maximum performance and coverage anytime, anywhere,” Mueller said in a prepared statement.
“The MG90 5G tackles the toughest challenges where 5G matters most, enabling high-definition applications like remote triage for paramedics, live video streaming for law enforcement and improved Wi-Fi services for transit riders—all while switching seamlessly from network to network as the vehicles moves.”
In addition to continuing to operate on 4G networks, Markland said the MG90 5G supports 5G only in the sub-6 GHz spectrum bands. While this means that the router doesn’t currently support operation on the nascent millimeter-wave 5G—something Sierra Wireless is monitoring for future developments—it meets the primary need cited by customer, he said.
“The sub-6 [GHz spectrum] is really what drives the coverage,” Markland said. “And most of our customers in this space are in vehicles—they can be in the city, they can be in a more rural environment, and they can be out fighting forest fires. We really see sub-6 as where it’s at for a vehicle router at this point.”
Customers leveraging 5G networks should experience noticeable improvements in the data rates—and with greater consistency, according to Markland.
“We can still get multiple gigabits per second—in theory—on the air interface,” he said. “But what we see as the market demand—the real customer need—is actually raising the consistent average performance up.
“The question we get from customers really is, ‘Can I stream video everywhere—one or two, three or four multiple video streams everywhere? I don’t need 2 Gbps. What I actually need is 100 Mbps everywhere I go.’ They want a high floor. They want to go 70 miles per hour everywhere; they don’t care what the top speed of the car is.”
In addition, customers could see uplink speeds increase fourfold with the MG90 5G, Markland said. Eventually, they also will experience lower latency, but those gains are not expected to be noticeable until carriers upgrade their networks to standalone 5G, which is projected to happen during the next few years.
Markland said the MG90 5G routers will begin shipping before the end of the year, with large-volume shipments to support broad deployments starting in the first quarter of 2021.