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Building private 5G networks indoors with outdoor solutions

Man working on his laptop while sitting on a desk in an office space.

Private indoor wireless networks, particularly those based on 5G technology, are becoming increasingly popular among businesses. By bringing cellular coverage and connectivity indoors, businesses can support data-intensive business communication needs end-to-end, particularly in rural and remote areas.

While Wi-Fi and LTE/4G are the established private wireless network options, there are reasons why businesses are considering 5G-based solutions instead.

Private 5G offers superior performance to private LTE / 4G networks, with high-speed, low latency, and much greater bandwidth. This makes 5G a better option to support IoT use cases that require more data throughput and are more time-sensitive. The small cells 5G relies on also make it a more viable option for cellular connectivity in rural and remote areas where coverage isn’t available or is unreliable, as they can be placed anywhere to act as base stations. And while Wi-Fi and particularly Wi-Fi 6/6E offers some security, 5G service provides much more robust data security.

However, extending 5G network coverage and connectivity to indoor locations can be a challenge, as 5G can struggle to penetrate obstacles such as walls. While in some cases deployment of an indoor-based network architecture makes sense, outdoor-based, on-premises 5G solutions can be a better option.

Outdoor-based solutions simplify deployment

While it may sound counterintuitive, deploying an outdoor-based solution to provide 5G coverage and connectivity indoors can be simpler and more cost-effective than deploying an indoor-based solution. With an outdoor-based solution, a single, fully integrated 5G Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) can be installed on either an exterior wall or the roof of a building to provide the vital link to both public and private 5G networks. These all-in-one devices integrate antennas, routing, and gateway capabilities needed to capture a 5G signal and bring the connectivity indoors, eliminating the need for an indoor cellular router.

Fully integrated outdoor CPEs also enable businesses to take advantage of outdoor-grade Cat 6 Ethernet cabling to deliver captured 5G signal and data traffic indoors rather than the coaxial cable used by indoor-based solutions. Coaxial cable is bulky and expensive to install and delivers lower performance compared to Cat 6 Ethernet.

Using Cat 6 Ethernet cabling eliminates these issues. Deployment is much more cost-effective because the cable itself is less expensive. Plus, while installers must have specialized training to run coaxial cables, Cat 6 Ethernet cables are much more straightforward to install and can usually be deployed by IT staff. Finally, unlike coaxial cables, Cat 6 Ethernet maintains signal integrity over the whole length of a signal run.

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Outdoor CPEs optimizes operations

Outdoor CPEs also offer post-deployment advantages:

Firstly, outdoor CPEs integrate multiple high-gain, omnidirectional and directional antennas. This combination ensures greater data throughput from both tower and rooftop cell sites over long ranges.

Outdoor CPEs are also engineered to support multiple connections. This makes it easier for businesses to ensure they always have the coverage and connectivity they need. The CPE can support separate connections to both primary and backup cellular networks and can easily be configured for automatic failover to a backup network as needed. Usually, this will be a private network as the primary network and a public network as the backup, though it could also be a public 5G network with a public 4G LTE network as a backup.

Inseego supports indoor and outdoor solutions

Of course, every business needs to assess its own unique needs and circumstances when deciding which type of network to deploy. While outdoor-based solutions offer several advantages over indoor options, when available 5G connectivity is strong enough inside the building, they may simply not be necessary. And leased buildings may have restrictions on what can be placed on their exterior, limiting the ability to deploy outdoor-based solutions.

Whether you ultimately decide on an indoor-based or outdoor-based option, Inseego has a variety of solutions that are engineered to simplify the process of extending 5G coverage and connectivity indoors.

The Inseego Wavemaker FG2000 series 5G indoor cellular routers support multiple 5G bands, including the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) as well as Wi-Fi 6, Ethernet, and secure connections for up to 128 Wi-Fi devices. And the Inseego Wavemaker FX2000 series 5G indoor cellular routers provide a cost-effective and flexible alternative to FG2000 series routers for businesses that need secure connections for up to 30 devices.

Inseego also supports outdoor-based solutions with the Inseego Wavemaker FW2000 series 5G outdoor CPE and the Inseego Wavemaker FW2010 series 5G outdoor CPE. The FW2000 series combines multiple high-gain directional antennas with routing and gateway capabilities in a secure and robust device that can sustain 5G speeds 24x7. On the other hand, the FW2010 series provides multiple high-power mmWave antennas, extending the reach of 5G mmWave to support new uses cases and experiences.

Another advantage offered by Inseego is security. Our systems have advanced networking functions and enterprise-grade security built-in with Inseego SD Edge solutions. This makes our routers and CPEs not only flexible solutions but highly secure ones right out of the box, which helps businesses maintain the integrity of both their network connections and their data.

For more insight into considerations for extending or setting up coverage indoors with indoor-based and outdoor-based solutions, read our recent white paper.

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