Is YOUR Mobile VPN 4G Ready?
What you need to know to keep your networks running smoothly & effectively

By Frank Draper, Radio IP Software

One must first understand that there are 2 types of 4G Networks: the public 4G networks that belong to the Carriers and operate in their specific frequency bands (1800 to 2100 MHz) and the private 4G networks that will be owned by Public Safety agencies (Police, Fire, EMS, etc.), generally operating in the 700 MHz band - often referred to as the “D” block frequencies

It is important to understand these different networks in order for Public Safety (PS) Agencies to make “FULL” use of the benefits of advanced 4G technologies. PS Agencies are likely to use both, roaming in and out of each of these networks in order to make best use of the coverage offered by each. So is this done easily?

QoS is Key
Mobile Virtual Private Networks (MVPNs) are essential for today’s ultra-mobile PS workforces. No doubt the promise of faster speeds expected with 4G (LTE & WiMAX) carrier deployments will greatly benefit these road warriors, but there are some precautions that must be followed prior to incorporating 4G services to ensure your MVPN server doesn’t become a bottleneck. It is also crucial to recognize that special functions are required in your MVPN to be QoS (Quality of Service) capable, an important aspect of your network

Traditionally, PS MVPNs were designed to transmit the most amount of data possible over a small wireless channel, i.e. narrowband networking. The continuing evolution of wireless networks is resulting in a range of 2G, 3G, 3G+ and 4G wireless assets. Add to this the consolidation of PS departments, not to mention budget restrictions, and it becomes clear that 4G MVPN deployments must deliver the flexibility to adapt to dynamic environments without impacting mission critical communications and do all this in a cost-effective, secure manner.

Conduct comprehensive traffic modeling to test how your server performs
While 4G wireless services support huge levels of traffic, you must first ensure your MVPN solution supports the new wireless protocols (i.e. LTE, WiMAX, etc.), and then that it can handle the bigger traffic loads without any degradation in performance. It might mean a simple software upgrade to the latest version of server software, but you should first stress-test your solution and conduct comprehensive traffic modeling to test how your server performs during peak loads. It is also important to note that Manufacturers of 4G equipment do not all follow the same methodology in exploiting the benefits of 4G, such as Quality of Service (QoS). So it is critical that your MVPN is developed and tested to optimize these benefits.

Quality of Service (QoS) is an important area that must be examined. Of course, the faster speeds of 4G are beneficial, but in times of emergency you need the flexibility to tap into any and all network resources to ensure all responders have the connectivity needed and with the proper priority. Your MVPN solution should ensure application-level QoS with premium traffic prioritization and bandwidth reservation. It should also simultaneously leverage existing networking assets (such as Private Mobile Radio, legacy systems, 2G, 3G, etc.) to handle lower priority transmissions.

Intelligent allocation of network resources and bandwidth
Additionally, the speed and capacity of 4G networks might not be needed for every application. Controlling network costs requires the intelligent allocation of network resources and bandwidth, which demands robust, granular bandwidth allocation capabilities. Your MVPN solution needs to give you the ability to finely tune which applications use any given network resource and be flexible enough to dynamically adapt to changing requirements on-the-fly, especially during critical incidents. General day-to-day bandwidth allocation settings might have to drastically change when an emergency situation arises to ensure response teams have uninterrupted access to key network resources, such as managing an incident or an event.

In conclusion, the introduction of 4G services demands an advanced MVPN solution that incorporates application steering and multi-agency support to optimize all network assets in your portfolio. A 4G MVPN solution should easily and transparently transition from one network resource to another, seamlessly, providing total flexibility while respecting the individual connection and security requirements of various PS agencies  all the while optimizing budgets without sacrificing performance, coverage or reliability.

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