There are more and more reasons why companies need to have off-site network access for their business to function, and to also to grow. Freelancers may require access to the IT network from wherever they are based, as well as allowing people who are employed full time to work remotely amongst a whole host of other uses.
To do this, businesses need lightning fast mobile connectivity – just like we have on our personal phones where we can use 4G to stream movies and surf the net – but the massive amounts of data required by most networks mean that one SIM card on its own is not enough.
This is where a 4G router comes in. This technology takes the humble SIM card and harnesses its power in ways that mean that off-site working is just as fast as being in the office.
So, how can a 4G router really help your business?
What is a 4G and how did we get here?
Before we look at what a 4G router is, we need to look at what 4G technology actually is – and to do this we have to go back in time a little bit and look at the history of cellular communications and where 4G originated from
Although it was not called this at the time – if we go back to the 1980’s we had what is now known as the 1G network – which was the first analogue radio telecommunications networks. At they it was an analogue only signal which only allowed voice to be transmitted. This changed in the early 1990’s, with the 2G network that allowed small ‘packets’ of data to be sent as well as the voice transmission – which is where SMS text messaging first became available.
3G technology was next and it was first available in the late 1990’s – although really it took a few years longer (until the early to mid-2000s) before it became widely commercially available. 3G not quite the big breakthrough in terms of mobile internet – but people were starting to access the internet on their phones, however we were a long way from superfast mobile internet.
Then we arrive at where the technology is today with the incredibly fast mobile 4G networks. The first 4G networks were launched in 2008 and this is where the mobile internet revolution really began, and for the first time ever most peoples primary internet access point were their phones.
4G now – as you probably know from your own use of it – allows very fast mobile internet connection so that you can stream movies and music on your mobile device – anything that is possible on your internet connection at home can be done via 4G.
It is not quite as simple as this for your business network however due to the amount of data a business network requires – you cannot just connect your phone and use it as an internet entry point for your business network, unfortunately.
There is a solution to this however, which harnesses the power of 4G connectivity whilst giving you the amount of data you need for a business network, and that is the 4G Router
What is a 4G router?
The issue we with using a 4G sim is that one SIM does not give you much more than a normal internet connection, but what you need is the power of multiple SIMs – not just working separately but their connections being ‘bonded’ which is where the hardware solution of the 4G Router comes in.
Most 4G routers are not only designed to take multiple (5,10,20+ at a time for many of the business level routers) but they also use the SIMs together intelligently. The router has slots for each SIM so that when they are installed the router essentially takes the performance of 1 SIM and then multiplies it by the number of SIM’s you install in to the router, giving you improved performance as well as reliability.
You can use SIMs from different network providers – and this means if one network provider drops service it does not completely stop you dead in your tracks. The router essentially takes the power of each SIM you put in and creates on powerful business standard internet connection that you can run your business network on.
How should you pick a 4G router that’s right for you?
There is no such think as a standard level 4G router, but there are guides on what to look for and here is an overview of the most important points, and you can decide which ones are most important to your business:
- Multi-SIM technology – How important this is depends on the size of your business. Some of the lower end routers are for small business and so only offer a few SIM slots. ALL businesses will need at least 2 just so the 2nd slot can be used as a failover in case the 1st connection goes down for some reason – the bigger the business – the more usage – the more slots you are likely to need
- Traffic prioritisation – You need to be able to make sure that ‘mission critical’ applications (such as maybe payment systems) take priority over less important applications and so if there is diminished performance for some reason then your business still runs and the important applications still get served with 4G internet connectivity
- Bonding vs. Load balancing – A 4G router that ‘bonds’ connections will take the data from all the sims and mix it into one high speed internet connection. This is down to you to set it up this way or the other way which is ‘load balancing’. This is where individual users/apps get their own data connection meaning they’re likely to have constantly running failover SIMs, but that user will not get the speed of a bonded connection as they’ll be limited to a single SIM connection speed
Benefits of using a 4G router
There are lots of benefits to using a 4G router in your business, essentially because it gives you a mobile version of your business available anywhere you need to go, which can give you opportunities for goring your business that you may not realised existed, as well as some of the more obvious ones.
- Working with clients – You can work on clients premises without relying on their connections/networks, but it works as your mobile office from anywhere
- Trade Shows & Expos – Take what you do to important shows and expos and don’t worry about having a wired network
- Pop-Up Retail – Increasingly popular are the pop up retail stores in towns and cities – take these opportunities to grow your business with a 4G router
- Access your office from anywhere – Work when on holiday, work on the road seeing customers but still access your office – there are many different ways this can be used to benefit your business
Harnessing the power of 4G through a 4G router offers your business the chance to make its off-site working as fast as it is with a wired in network connection, if you think that this could benefit your business then it could be worth taking a look at a 4G router for when working away from the office, or to make it an option available to you.
Interesting related article: “Security firms unveil ultra-secure routers to protect ‘smart’ homes.”