Engineer’s Corner – Enterprise Networking – Wireless WAN

With more and more companies relying on WAN and ISP connectivity to interconnect their offices, business partners, customers, and cloud-based services, maintaining access to those resources has become a business-critical priority.

Adding in diverse carrier solutions can sometimes be economically prohibitive or not available in some locations.  For many customers that have the option to utilize diverse carriers, they are often actually utilizing some of the same infrastructures to provide those services to that location.  A physical outage from one carrier can result in other carriers at that location being affected.  Think of the age-old stories of a cut utility line bringing telco and WAN services down for an entire building, probably should have called 8-1-1 first.

Another carrier alternative to explore would be cellular technologies, most notably LTE-based cellular, that many of our top cellular carriers are continually improving.  With advancements in reliability, coverage areas and performance (and soon to be even better with 5G services), LTE cellular services can provide great options for customers.  These services can be leveraged in multiple use cases such as failover purposes, in remote areas where ISP choices may be lacking, for temporary networking solutions, or as a primary internet connectivity for small offices.

A recent product launched by Meraki is making the option to add cellular connectivity cost-effective and providing installation options that are flexible to bring the gateways to where cellular services are optimal. The MG line of cellular gateways are available with internal and external antennas and can be located outside as the products are IP67 rated.  Relying on network cabling versus traditional antenna coax helps to reduce signal degradation when the unit needs to be positioned outside the bunker-like network closet in the basement where cellular services might be poor.  Have non-Meraki equipment that could benefit from cellular services? No problem.  Any downstream, ethernet enabled edge device can utilize the cellular gateways for failover or even primary internet connectivity.

There are competitive options out there for cellular network connectivity but having the simplicity of overall device management utilizing Meraki’s cloud-based management dashboard makes this solution stand out.  Through the dashboard, you can roll out the gateways using zero-touch, self-provisioning features, access remote troubleshooting tools, perform firmware upgrades remotely and gain visibility into valuable cellular information and performance metrics.  Thousands of sites can be securely cloud-managed and monitored from this single pane of glass through a web-browser.

Michael O’Brien, Solutions Architect

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