Peplink Adds CAT 12 Modems

Peplink Cat 12 Routers

Peplink has upgraded to CAT 12 modems in certain Pepwave cellular products. These Modems, also called LTEA Pro, will allow significantly higher data speeds and improve reliability. The FirstNet routers will be the initial units to include CAT 12 hardware.

Pepwave MAX CAT 12 Routers

Single CAT 12 Modem
BR1-Enterprise – one CAT 12 modem
Transit – one CAT 12 modem
HD2 – one CAT 12 modem and one LTEA modem
HD4 – one CAT 12 modem and three LTEA modems
HD2 IP67 – one CAT 12 modem and one LTEA modem
HD2 Dome – one CAT 12 modem and one LTEA modem

Multiple CAT 12 Modems
MAX Transit Duo – two CAT 12 Modems
HD4-MBX – four CAT 12 modems
EXM Flex Module (for EPX and SDX) three CAT 12 modems

In short, these CAT 12 units will support download speeds 4 to 6 times faster than previous CAT 3 and CAT 4 LTEA modems. CAT 12 also allows 4×4 MIMO connections.

Modem Type Download Speed Upload Speed MIMO Layers
CAT 3 100 Mbps 51 Mbps 2
CAT 4 150 Mbps 51 Mbps 2
CAT 12 603 Mbps 102 Mbps 2 or 4

Of course, the speeds and throughput are dependent on the cellular provider networks. Unlike 5G which is only available in very limited locations, CAT 12 LTEA Pro modems can handle the speed improvements attainable now in thousands of cellular markets. While the current cellular networks will not all achieve the full 600 Mbps possible with the CAT 12 modems, as speeds increase this new hardware will be ready to keep up. The technology in CAT 12 modems is part of the transition to 5G.

What is CAT?

The designation of CAT on a modem should not be confused with CAT designation used on Ethernet cables. Generally CAT is shorthand for Equipment Category. The CAT of Ethernet cables was created by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and is based on wire thickness, shielding and data integrity, with higher numbers more appropriate for longer cable runs. These cable designations like CAT4, CAT5e, or CAT6a are not the same CAT of wireless modems. Rather the CAT we talk about for modems are the Equipment Categories established by 3GPP, the unifying Mobile Broadband Standard organization.

The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) unites seven previous telecommunications standard development organizations (ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA, TTC). These “organizational Partners” work in cooperation to set the rules for protocols and standards in order for all of us to have a unified set of connection technologies and goals. It started with 3G, then 4G, and now 5G. These are not the invention of one person or company, but the result of the collective international intelligence and agreements from hardware, software, and network leaders and engineers working together. This consortium creates the standards and protocols that allow developers to create hardware that will work with the entire range of networks and networks that can host varied hardware.

The consortium issues releases that each build on the technology of the previous release. In these releases the 3GPP has already defined several “User Equipment Categories,” from CAT 0 to CAT 19. Industry adoption of these standards is not necessarily linear, and different modems from different standards can work side by side. CAT 3, CAT 4, and CAT 6 are all variously used. Peplink has chosen CAT 12 from 3GPP Release 11 with 600 Mbps speeds.

The nine Pepwave CAT 12 models are in stock at Frontier. Contact your Peplink reseller to order or for more details.

Frontier Computer Corp. is the largest distributor of Peplink products in the world and carries the full Peplink line. In addition to Peplink, the Frontier channel represents Poynting Antennas, Wilson Amplifiers, Yealink and Grandstream VoIP phones, and other connectivity solutions. Resellers and integrators are welcome to apply for participation in the Frontier Channel.

Learn more about the Frontier Channel

Peplink Announces FirstNet Router Lineup

Peplink FirstNet Routers

July 18, 2019

Peplink has announced their full portfolio of FirstNet ready products allowing Public Safety and all other First Responding agencies to deploy reliable and cost-effective wireless networks. Peplink has been a leader in wireless networks for Public Safety, Fire Departments, EMS and other emergency organizations. Now the reliability and power is extended to the FirstNet system.

Built for Emergency Professionals

Because of the easy deployment, robust 256-bit EAS security, integrity of torture-tested hardware, and high value per dollar Peplink Networks have proven to be the long term solution for anytime, anywhere communications. Peplink networks are not bound to one connection strategy or carrier, but exploit all available channels to create a system that works anywhere without any adjustment or input from the end users. But until now, First responders shared all those available channels with all other users.

The Power of FirstNet

The government authorized FirstNet Authority established cellular Band 14 as a reserved space for Emergency Responder traffic. In emergencies and at large events, heavy public use can lead to overloading of commercial wireless communications networks. When that happens, public safety users were treated the same as any other user, and communications could be limited or even unavailable. With the FirstNet Network, responders get a dedicated “fast lane” that provides highly secure communications every day, anytime, and for every emergency.

Peplink’s Pepwave FirstNet models bring the multi-network connectivity of all leading commercial providers, and integrate them with Band 14 as well. With SpeedFusion technology, the multi-cellular models can combine the coverage and speed of several mobile carriers for mobile Command Centers and Incident Response Teams to rapidly deploy a communications headquarters anywhere. This efficient fast connectivity will saves lives.

The full suite of Pepwave FirstNet routers includes:

Pepwave Single Cellular Modem Units
• MAX Transit
• MAX Transit Mini

Pepwave Dual Cellular Modem Units
• MAX Transit Duo
• MAX HD2 IP67
• MAX HD2 Dome

Pepwave Quad Cellular Modem Units

All the devices are available at Frontier Computer Corp. Contact your certified Peplink Partner to find pricing information and place an order.

Failover: Keeping the Connection

by Topher Lautner

Failover is the SD-WAN term for automated switching from a primary WAN source to a secondary or back-up WAN. The Internet connection on any network comes in through a WAN (Wide Area Network). A WAN connection can originate from any of several sources: cable, DSL, fiber, satellite, or even cellular. Failover technology is built into a router, but not all routers are failover capable, and different routers have different levels of failover. Every router takes an incoming WAN connection and distributes it to connected users on the LAN (Local Area Network). A failover router can manage two or more incoming WAN sources and dynamically switch between them.

Failover 101

For our examples we will consider a Pepwave MAX-HD4-LTEA-W-T which is a powerhouse multi-WAN router with up to five wired WANs and four embedded LTEA cellular modems for potentially four more WAN sources. While the HD4 is much more router than we will need for these examples, it has all possible capabilities making it flexible enough for any possible deployment.

For the first example we will consider a mobile only deployment such as a maritime application or a remote worksite where wired connections have yet to be established. The example HD4 has active SIM cards for each modem as follows:
Modem 1 – Verizon
Modem 2 – AT&T
Modem 3 – T-Mobile
Modem 4 – Sprint
(In this example we are using all four networks. Failover can be established with only two WAN connections.)

The SIMs are installed in order based on a preference factor like cost or billing. The failover technology allows setting up a priority rule where the device will treat the Verizon connection as the primary WAN. If the Verizon connection becomes unavailable, the router will begin passing traffic over the AT&T connected modem. If both Verizon and AT&T networks become unavailable, the connection will be sent through the T-Mobile modem. If all three of those carriers are unavailable, the router will begin sending sessions through the Sprint connected modem. The switching requires no user input after the initial set up, however the unused connections most often remain connected, they are just not actively used.

When You Need Session Persistence

With this standard failover set-up any active sessions will have to be reestablished when there is a switch from one modem to the other. For example a stalled webpage may have to be reloaded. While establishing a failover connection is fast, there is a brief interval of disconnection during the handoff. Standard failover does not offer session persistence and any sessions that are active at the time a WAN source switches will be reestablished over the new WAN source. For session persistence, you’ll want to look at SpeedFusion Hot Failover.

Our example HD4 is SpeedFusion capable. To establish hot failover, The HD4 must create a SpeedFusion tunnel with a second Peplink or Pepwave device. The two SpeedFusion enabled devices constantly monitor each other’s WAN health. In the standard failover example above the failover connections are only activated once a primary connection failure is detected. With hot failover, at least one secondary connection is kept open by the router and the health of the SpeedFusion tunnel is constantly monitored. Session packets that fail on the primary WAN are kept active by the second connected device and rerouted to the failover connection with minimal packet loss.

In our example above, the remote HD4 maintains a SpeedFusion tunnel with a Peplink Balance 380 at the main office, which is connected to a cable Internet WAN. The remote HD4 uses the Verizon cellular WAN for both SpeedFusion activity and all user traffic. At the same time the HD4 keeps the AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint modems connected, although traffic to those connections is limited to minimal data for health checks. If at any time the SpeedFusion network senses a failure on any of the active HD4 connections, it will automatically begin routing sessions over the next available channel. If the Verizon network disconnects, the HD4 will switch the main traffic to the AT&T connection that is already active. Because SpeedFusion is constantly monitoring each connection it will know if the AT&T modem is unavailable and route traffic to the T-Mobile or Sprint connection as the pre-established priority dictates. SpeedFusion hot failover keeps an alternative, secondary WAN connection open and available for instant failover with minimal or no packet loss, maintaining session persistence. To the user on the HD4 LAN, the WAN switching is undetected; the user will not experience a break in the connection.

Hot Failover will use minimally more cellular data than a standard failover set-up, both to establish the SpeedFusion tunnel and to ping the idle connections. The minimally higher data consumption is a worthwhile trade-off in critical applications that require session persistence. SpeedFusion hot failover creates an unbreakable connection.

One Technology, Many Applications

In our example we used only cellular WAN connections, but failover can be created with any type of WAN connections. In open sea maritime applications a VSAT WAN may be added for failover. Many Frontier partners use failover for Point of Purchase sales terminals. The terminal will normally process all traffic through a wired cable WAN, but in the rare case that the cable WAN fails, they will failover to a cellular WAN connection to keep processing bank cards, and keep the businesses open. There are countless other application where failover is important, some of them situations where session persistence is critical, as in law enforcement or emergency services. In those applications, SpeedFusion Hot Failover is the best solution.

Topher Lautner is a Frontier Technical Support Specialist.

Frontier is the largest distributor of Peplink products in the world and carries the full Peplink line. In addition to Peplink, the Frontier channel represents Poynting Antennas, Wilson Amplifiers, Yealink and Grandstream VoIP phones, and other connectivity solutions. Resellers and integrators are welcome to apply for membership in the Frontier Channel.

Learn more about the Frontier Channel

SD-WAN Connections Explained

By Topher Lautner

Our support callers often ask which SD-WAN strategy is best. It isn’t always clear because the terms themselves sound so similar. However, carrier aggregation, load balancing, failover, and bonding are all different technologies with different applications.

Carrier Aggregation is the technology that turns LTE into LTEA. It is cellular connection technology available in any LTEA modem, and not a function of router technology. An LTEA modem can use a single SIM to connect to multiple cellular bands simultaneously, but only when the carrier is using aggregation at their tower. For example, a single modem LTEA device, such as a MAX-BR1-MINI-LTEA-W-T, with a Verizon SIM card would be able to connect to band 2 and band 4 using bandwidth from both, giving you better total cellular throughput. It is not exactly double the bandwidth, but the cellular connection is more reliable and throughput will increase.

SD-WAN Router Based Technologies

The Internet connection on any network comes in through a WAN (Wide Area Network). The WAN connection can originate from any of several sources: cable, DSL, fiber, satellite, or even cellular. The router brings Internet in through the WAN connection and distributes it to all connected users. Each of the following technologies act in different ways on WAN connections and Internet bandwidth distribution. Bandwidth Bonding and Hot Failover are Peplink technologies that require SpeedFusion.

Failover is a router’s ability to switch between one WAN connection and a secondary or backup connection without input from the user. If the Internet feed from the main WAN fails, failover reconnects to another available WAN connection. There are two types of failover, basic failover and hot failover. The driving factor of which one to choose is session persistence. With basic failover, when the primary WAN connection fails, any sessions using it needs to be reestablished over the secondary WAN connection, by reloading a stalled web page, for example. Failover establishes a session over only one WAN connection at a time, and speeds and bandwidth are limited by those connections individually.

Peplink SpeedFusion DiagramWhen there is a WAN failure, Hot Failover maintains each active session. This session persistence is critical for certain connection applications, like VoIP calls, which will drop when a session is broken or interrupted. Hot Failover requires Peplink’s SpeedFusion and two connected Peplink devices. The two SpeedFusion enabled devices constantly monitor each other’s WAN health. When a failure is detected by either device the connection is instantly switched to the healthy WAN link. With SpeedFusion hot failover session persistence is always maintained.

Load Balancing: While failover uses two WAN connections, one at a time, load balancing can use multiple WAN connections simultaneously. Load Balancing is the responsibility of the router to use multiple WAN connections in defined ways based on different criteria.  Each WAN is has a usage priority established by the administrator and executed by the router. Under load balancing, WANs can be set up in a priority, weighted balance, or overflow sequence to name a few. With load balancing each single session will only use a single WAN connection, but the many sessions can be distributed over various WAN connections in many ways. Load balancing and bonding are often confused; unlike bonding, load balancing has no bandwidth penalty and usually optimizes bandwidth usage.

Bandwidth Bonding is a popular buzzword, but often misunderstood. Like hot failover, bonding requires two Peplink devices with a VPN established between them. Bonding is used to create higher reliability and integrity in a connection. With bonding, a single session shares multiple or all WAN connections. The session is encrypted and broken into packets by the first router. The packets are sent through the VPN tunnel via multiple WAN links. The router at the receiving end decodes and reassembled the packets. The encryption creates a high level of data security, and data integrity. A bonded connection can have higher bandwidth than a single channel, but it will have a bandwidth cost of up to 20%. For example two 100 Mbps WAN connections bonded together may yield only 160 Mbps.  It is important to know when bonding is truly needed and when load balancing is a better option.

  • Carrier Aggregation is a cellular technology available with LTEA modems and towers.
  • Failover automatically switches the WAN connection from one to another if the primary WAN fails.
  • Hot Failover instantly switches the WAN connection from one to another and maintains session persistence if the primary WAN fails.
  • Load Balancing uses two or more WAN connections simultaneously intelligently routing traffic among the available channels.
  • Bonding creates a more secure, wider single path from two or more WAN Connections.

Knowing the basic difference between the connection technologies can help you decide which strategy you want to implement based on your connection types and use needs. In future articles we will explore failover, load balancing and bonding.

Topher Lautner is a Frontier Technical Support Specialist.

Planning for 5G

This is the Part Two; click here to start with Part One, Demystifying 5G

5G is still mostly a future technology, but it will represent a revolution in connection speed. Industry predictions say that within five years or less 5G will be the prevailing technology in mobile broadband communications, and could eventually be the tech that frees us from wires completely. But the current, limited testing environments will not meet our connection needs today or even in the near future. How do we proceed with our personal and business connectivity when 5G it not available for our immediate needs?

5G and Phone Users – What to do

The problem for phone users is balancing current needs with future predictions. At the consumer level it’s an easy decision. If you need (or want) a new phone today, there is no reason to hesitate in buying a device without 5G technology. 4GLTE networks will be operating for many more years. Most people keep their phones three years or less and it will easily be that long before 5G is available everywhere. Waiting will pay off because within the two year life of the phone you might buy today, most units will have 5G capability, not exclusively premium models.

The decision is different if you live in urban, densely populated areas. Although 4GLTE isn’t going to get slower just because 5G arrives, when it is time for new hardware, it makes sense to consider a device with 5G capability, especially if you are buying a premium phone anyways. Right now your 5G choices are limited to two expensive choices, one version of the Samsung S10, and the Motorola Moto G with the 5G Moto Mod. There is no 5G Apple phone. If you keep a device for three years or more and live in a major metropolis, any device you buy should be 5G capable. Even though high speed 5G may not saturate every city block, there will be enough coverage areas that most people will want the option. The next six months or so should see the rollout of many more 5G phones. If you are planning to purchase new device, it might pay to use your existing hardware until early 2020 when more 5G phones will fill the market.

5G for Business – What to do

Business class cellular devices have a longer life than consumer products. Many M2M and IoT deployments still operate successfully everyday on 4G and even 3G. AT&T shut down 2G networks in 2016, and 3G networks are in sunset. Verizon will shut down their 3G networks by December of 2019, and the other major carriers are expected to take 3G offline by 2021. Anyone with 3G hardware should have replacement plans ready. 4GLTE on the other hand it still completely viable.

Secreted away in boardrooms there may be plans to phase out 4GLTE, but they are not public. 5G systems, when fully implemented, will operate side by side with 4GLTE for at least a few years after full 5G roll-out. 4G began to replace 3G in 2010, and ten years later 3G is still in operation. While the technology timeline is constantly compressing, hardware infrastructure replacement is still limited by funding and human labor. Anything operating successfully on 4GLTE will remain viable beyond the life of the hardware, well into the second half of the next decade. New 4GLTE hardware is still a good investment, particularly where it has demonstrated application and success. There will be significantly better bandwidth with 5G connections in the future, but 5G is not yet a machine communication solution for today.

The 5G Business Strategy

5G is future, so no long term strategy should ignore what’s coming. There are key strategies to adopt when buying cellular equipment. First choose hardware with a history of compatibility between generations. Second, look for hardware that is future ready, or upgradable, particularly with high dollar purchases.

Device Compatibility
A manufacturer’s devices from different generations should work together. Will a 3G device be able to login to the same management system as a 4GLTE unit and the newest 5G models? Introduction of a new unit into an existing system should not present compatibility issues for existing networks or hardware. For example, Peplink’s InControl2 remote management software can host older technology equipment alongside the latest offerings. The InControl2 console will offer the same management tools for all units of every generation. Similarly The Peplink FusionHub virtual router can host 3G, 4GLTE and 5G devices, and its SpeedFusion Technology can work with a 4GLTE device on one end of a VPN tunnel and a 5G device at the other end. With any vendor, look for a history of full line compatibility between generations as the first preparation for emerging technology.

Favor upgradable hardware
Investments in high cost devices should be protected with upgradability. Businesses still need to replace and add equipment while 5G is developing. Peplink has introduced modular devices with built-in upgradability in mind. The EPX has eight interchangeable modules for connections ranging from SFP+ fiber and gigabit Ethernet to 4GLTEA modules. The units can be purchased with any combination of modules installed, or left with slots open for future technology. The new HD4-MBX is a 4GLTEA cellular router with gigabit WAN and LAN ports. The HD4-MBX is designed so the 4GLTEA module can be removed and replaced. For both devices, when 5G networks are viable, the Cellular modules can be added or changed out for immediate compatibility without major hardware replacement and without even opening the cases.

Look for Future Capabilities, Built-in Now
Several LTE antennas are limited to 410-2700 MHz bands where most current 4GLTE connectivity occurs. Instead, look for LTE antennas that are engineered to include frequencies in the 3.2 to 3.8 GHz range as well as the 5-6 GHz frequencies previously reserved for Wi-Fi. These antennas are ideal for current 4GLTE, but include bands the 5G networks will use for wide area coverage. The gigahertz bands will offer the soonest and widest 5G connectivity. While the highest 5G speeds will be in the millimeter wave bands 24GHz to 86GHz, they have the shortest range and will proliferate last. We are still not seeing millimeter wave band antennas, but even when millimeter wave band antennas are available it will still be necessary for them to have the 3.2-3.8 and 5-6GHz frequencies included because they will provide the 5G wide area foundation.

No one can be sure when 5G service will dominate the landscape, but with modularity, backward compatibility, and future capable hardware a business can be ready. Currently, and for the near future we have the highly effective and tested 4GLTE technology available. With reasonable planning and foresight, 4GLTE can be used today and painlessly transitioned to 5G when it is finally a reality.

Frontier Computer Corp. is the worlds largest distributor of Peplink, the industry leader in high speed data connection technology. We offer integrated, managed M2M data plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

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Demystifying 5G

With the exception of a few blocks in a few cities 5G does not exist in the United States. Despite all the hype it’s getting, right now 5G is more theory than reality. 5G will revolutionize delivery of high speed data, but it will be a while before the bulk of US consumers regularly connect with 5G. The best strategy for now is to enjoy 4GLTE coverage, watch, wait, and plan.

In a lot of ways we know more about 5G’s potential than its reality. According to Mike Moore of TechRadar, “estimates expect the average speed of 5G networks to reach 10Gb/s, and some even think transfer rates could reach a whopping 800Gb/s.” That is an 8,000% difference between the low and high estimates. 5G has crazy potential, but we will be on the very low end of the speed predictions in the early stages. Even at the low end 5G will have speeds only previously available with a wired connection. Speed like 10Gb/s will be common eventually, but not today, and probably not a year from now.

The 5G Reality

Where 5G is in “testing,” the roll out is block by block. There are areas of Chicago, Dallas, and Minneapolis where, if you win the geography lottery, there is a real 5G signal. But don’t wander around because you might lose the connection. In an April 2019 article aptly titled “5G is [Barely] Real,” Sascha Segan notes “Verizon’s 5G in Chicago, right now, only covers parts of downtown and seems to get about 300 feet of distance from each cell site. AT&T’s 5G in Dallas gave us 1.3Gbps speeds and about 600 feet of range—but only at two locations in the city.” In an April press release Verizon promised, “20 U.S. cities will get 5G Ultra-Wideband service in 2019.” But a footnote clarified, “5G Ultra-Wideband available only in parts of select markets.” 5G cells have narrow reach, so networks will need lots of them, and full market saturation will take time. Today, world-wide the greatest 5G density is six major cities in South Korea.

Where are the Phones?

Even if you are next to a 5G cell, your iPhone 10 won’t know it. The Motorola Moto Z3 with its Moto Mod is the first 5G phone available in the US. You can get one from Verizon, and if you happen to live in parts of Chicago or Minneapolis you might be able to find a 5G signal. The Samsung Galaxy S10-5G is just arriving at some Verizon stores. But phones are not the obstacle to 5G. Several 5G capable devices will roll out in the new generation of phones, before the network infrastructure is fully deployed even in major cities.

5G is Good for Carriers

It will be a while before consumers can wander anywhere and enjoy a 5G connection. The real near term advantage of 5G isn’t to the user, but to the providers. 4G goes back to 2010, and even 4GLTE, and 4GLTEA were just a refresh and extension of 3G with more and better connections. The 3G/4G network hardware is getting old, and the 5G build out will be a revolution. On AndroidCentral Hildenbrand, Maring, and England write, “5G benefits the carrier as much or more than the consumer. The initial costs of new equipment will be offset by the savings over maintaining the current aging infrastructure. The ability to actually compete with in-home broadband service without resorting to fiber will gain more customers, all 5G devices in the U.S. will be carrier-specific, and some of the costs will be passed on to the customer.” In short, because there will be newer, faster technology, carriers can raise rates in a market where rates have stabilized and are even falling.

New Rules, New Tech

Like 3G and 4G, 5G isn’t one thing, but a set of protocols and rules. One of 5G’s new rules now allow 4GLTE-LAA (License Assisted Access). Previously carriers had to license their transmission bands, LAA uses the unlicensed 5GHz band used by Wi-Fi to increase bandwidth, however, only when there isn’t Wi-Fi traffic present. LAA uses a concept called Listen-Before-Talk (LBT) which dynamically selects channels that are not being used. The technology uses these unlicensed bands by “sharing them fairly.” 4GLTE-LAA is the thing AT&T is badging 5Ge.

The real 5G rollout however will supplement the current 4GLTE channels in the 450 to 6,000MHz bands with a whole new set of frequencies from 24GHz to 86GHz the so called Millimeter Wave Bands. Anyone with dual band Wi-Fi experience knows that transmission is denser and faster on the 5GHz channel, but reaches farther on the 2.4GHz channel. The same is true, and more so for the Millimeter wave bands; they are screaming fast, but don’t carry very far. 5G networks will be made of many smaller cells phased together in arrays. It’s a completely different connection strategy. Full 5G rollout will take years with 4GLTE and 5G operating side by side for most of the time.

The Bird in the Hand

It’s not time to feel left out of the 5G revolution. We should all be excited about 5G technology, just as we might be excited about anything coming in the future. At the same time, currently, and for the near future, we have the highly effective and tested 4GLTE technology available. The worst mistake anyone can make is avoiding a new equipment needed today for things coming in the undetermined future. With reasonable planning and foresight, today’s needs can be met while setting the stage for something better when it is finally a reality.

This is Part One; click here for Part Two: Planning for 5G

Frontier Computer Corp. is the worlds largest distributor of Peplink, the industry leader in high speed data connection technology. We offer integrated, managed M2M data plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

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The Internet in Your Camper, RV, or Boat

Airstream Connected

Summer is emerging and people are heading for travel and adventure. A few people will jump into nature with only survival tools, but most of us still want our normal comforts, like staying connected away from the strong signals of home. Connection is so important that Airstream received the New Horizons award at RVX: The RV Experience in Salt Lake City, Utah. Airstream’s new trailers include their Airstream Connected technology. The Airstream technology uses a cellular router with a high performance antenna to provide Wi-Fi internet access both inside and outside the RV. While the Airstream Connected package is custom designed for their trailers, anyone who wants to be connected far away from home can get the same technology with a cellular router and a high quality antenna. With these tools RVers heading to the woods and sailors on the open water can stay connected even where smart phones struggle for a signal.

Most RV parks and harbors have some sort of Wi-Fi. But anyone who has roamed an RV park trying to find exactly the right spot to connect knows how unreliable public Wi-Fi can be. Harbor Wi-Fi is lost as little as 50 feet beyond the dock. On the water there are only two options for internet or communications, expensive satellite or cellular. For near-shore leisure-based maritime traffic, five to nine miles out, cellular is significantly less expensive, particularly for any significant bandwidth usage. With the right equipment, a cellular signal can be received up to 10 miles off shore.

A Wi-Fi Router without cable

Home routers are powerful and easy to use. When they are home no one thinks twice about the easy connection for their phones, tablets, laptops, and even game consoles. The same level of convenience and easy connectivity is available in powerful cellular routers without the cable connection. The Pepwave MAX cellular router line includes moderately priced, enterprise level cellular routers that include dual SIM card slots to have two different carriers available for the best possible connection. While there are other somewhat similar brands, The Pepwave cellular routers feature SpeedFusion which will “failover” from one carrier SIM to the another, maintaining the best signal for an uninterrupted connection. They can be powered with 10 to 30 volts, and can operate from -40° to 149°F, making them suitable for any RV or Boat. The Airstream Connect system uses a Pepwave router.

“My Phone has no bars. How can I connect with Cellular?”

No one buys a smart phone because it has a great antenna. Phone designers dedicate their precious space to marque features like cameras and batteries. Since most phones are used in populated areas with strong signals, and since no one points a finger at the phone manufacturer when they can’t connect, phone designers rate the internal antennas as good-enough technology. However, where signals are weak the quality of an antenna can make the difference.

While many “high gain” antennas are available, they often perform poorly, having full gain in only a small part of the frequency band. If a carrier’s signal is in a 690MHz channel and an antenna’s stated gain is only reached at 1700MHz the specified gain is meaningless. Generally an antenna from major designers like Poynting, Panorama, and Mobile Mark will have full specified gain across the entire frequency band. A full spectrum medium gain antenna will often deliver a clearer signal than a poor quality high gain antenna.

The Airstream Connected technology uses a medium gain Poynting antenna. These units are available with five antennas in one waterproof IP68 housing — two LTE elements for cellular signals, two elements for dual band Wi-Fi, and a GPS element for location. In addition to the full bandwidth performance and higher gain, the Poynting MIMO-3 antenna can be mounted on top of an RV for vastly improved line-of-sight performance. For maritime applications a mast mounted, pole antenna can offer even better reception of cellular signals. The Poynting OMNI-402 offers 2×2 MIMO LTE performance in an IP68 Marine enclosure costing about one third of the price of other premium marine antennas.

Travelers enjoying nature, or navigating the Great Lakes and coastal waters do not have to be isolated from the Internet. For a modest investment in the right connection technology travelers can enjoy the safety and convenience of connectivity wherever they roam.

SpeedFusion Intro & Best Practices

Levels of Speed Fusion diagram

This simple graphic perfectly illustrates the core benefits of SpeedFusion.

Peplink has issued a new comprehensive whitepaper on their SpeedFusion technology. SpeedFusion is a powerful, simple to implement VPN technology that can use multiple WAN links to create a single secure data tunnel between devices. This allows SpeedFusion bonding to provide two key functions: bandwidth aggregation and VPN reliability. SpeedFusion can use all connected data paths to create a single logical VPN connection. If one connection technology fails, SpeedFusion can detect this slowdown or outage and instantly redirect traffic to other available connection channels.

SpeedFusion has applications in multiple markets from connecting branch offices, mobile resources, industrial sites, and others to a main office, headquarters, or even the cloud. It is widely used in Public Safety and by First Responders, as well as in education, broadcasting, and maritime applications.

The white paper includes a detailed technical description of SpeedFusion as well as a through explanation of how to create and implement SpeedFusion networks. While the information is technical enough for engineers, it includes enough basic illustrations that even a relative novice can gain a better understanding of this breakthrough technology. Peplink has made this whitepaper free to anyone on their website. It can be downloaded directly below.

Download the Whitepaper

Frontier is the largest distributor of Peplink products in the world and carries the full Peplink line. In addition to Peplink, the Frontier channel represents Poynting Antennas, Wilson Amplifiers, Yealink and Grandstream VoIP phones, and other connectivity solutions. Resellers and integrators are welcome to apply for membership in the Frontier Channel.

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Broadcast Video from the Air

More than 600 municipal law enforcement agencies have helicopters for aerial surveillance and observation, but few of them have real-time video feeds for responders on the ground. The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office was one of those agencies. Although Greenville is South Carolina’s most populous county, and the Greenville Sheriff’s department has over 400 deputies and 100 additional employees, they still couldn’t get real-time video from their Bell OH58C helicopter to their mobile command center and responders in the field. Industry standard COTS microwave systems are expensive, require multiple towers, and line-of-sight transmission. Using an off-the-shelf microwave transmission system was not only cost prohibitive, it was a massive undertaking. Adequate coverage of Greenville County with a microwave system would have required finding, leasing, or erecting towers to cover 800 square miles. The only field alternative was a $10,000 handheld receiver that still required line-of-sight connection to the Helicopter.

Frontier’s Peplink Partner Creates the Solution

The Greenville Sheriff’s department worked with Joe Schmauch of Greenville Media, a helicopter pilot himself, to find a better way to broadcast the video into the field than the off-the-shelf microwave systems. Greenville media is one of Frontier’s Certified Peplink partners, and worked with Taylor Avery, Frontier Computer’s Peplink Technical Manager to develop the proof of concept for sending real-time video to all responders. They configured a system using Peplink’s SpeedFusion secure VPN, Bandwidth Bonding, and Hot Failover. The result is a cost effective system that uses existing cellular assets in the community without additional infrastructure. Schmauch brought in Mark Robison of VITEC to improve the broadcast stream quality and video compression/error correction. With the Peplink System, the Sheriff’s department can send broadcast quality video to headquarters, a mobile command center, and directly to deputies responding at the scene in real-time. The full HD stream is broadcast with error correction and less than a two second delay.


At Headquarters a Peplink Balance 210 establishes four SpeedFusion VPN tunnels to receive the encrypted video stream from the Pepwave HD2 IP67 in the helicopter. The stream is also instantly and securely transmited through the SpeedFusion tunnels to the Pepwave HD4 in the Mobile Command Center. SpeedFusion bonds the Cellular WAN links into an unbreakable high speed connection that is more robust than any single cellular connection alone. Seeing the results from the Peplink Configuration, Mark Robison who usually works with video broadcast through Microwave transmission, was impressed with the quality and low latency.

“This use case implements Peplink bonded cellular to replace line-of-sight microwave transmission systems. It is orders of magnitude less expensive, and is more robust even than the microwave COTS solution that is currently the most well-known alternative approach.” — Mark Robison, VITEC

The system provides a steady broadcast quality video from the helicopter to both headquarters and the mobile command center, with a less than a two second delay. Over a secure CDN, the video streams are also shared to department cell phones and to other first responders. The Greenville Sheriff’s Department shares their aerial observation abilities with other agencies through a mutual aid agreement. With a FLIR camera, the chopper shows firefighters on the ground real-time thermal images from the air. The Pepwave outfitted Bell helicopter has been dispatched beyond Greenville to assist with other efforts including hurricane response. From any remote location the HD2 in the chopper can send video back to headquarters, and from there to anywhere in the world.

Frontier is the World’s Largest Peplink Distributor with more than 600 partner integrators in North America and Europe4.

Contact Frontier at 866.226.6344.

New Peplink IP67 Router for Worksite, Maritime, and Mobile

The Peplink HD2 Dome with the Ethernet Splitter attached.

Peplink has been the go-to solution for rugged and outdoor applications that require cellular Internet, but recently they have added a unit that will redefine outdoor cellular routers. The new HD2 Dome offers the unique innovation of an antenna and dual radio cellular router in one enclosure, built for any weather conditions.

Built-in Antenna Eliminates Cable Loss

All cellular routers deployed in outdoor applications require external LTE antennas. Ideally the remote antenna should be installed in the highest location for the best reception. For maritime and field applications that can mean 50 feet or more of cable. Even a high quality low-loss cable will give up about .5 dBi per meter. A quality high-gain external antenna will have a 6-8 dBi gain, but even a 40 foot cable can absorb most or all of that gain. The HD2 Dome’s 2×2 MIMO antennas are part of the circuits, without connectors and cabling, which means that their full 2-5 dBi gain is delivered to the cellular radios. The lightweight HD2 Dome can be easily mounted at the top of a mast, pole or roof, for maximum reception without losing any signal in long cables and connectors.

The HD2 Dome can be powered and attached to the network with a single PoE Ethernet cable.
Single Wire Installation

In addition to no antenna cables, no separate power wires are needed. The HD2 Dome connects to the network with a single PoE Ethernet cable. The Internet signal from the HD2 Dome can travel through more than 300 feet of Ethernet cable with no loss. The HD2 dome is ideal for pole or mast mounting outdoors where the signal is needed as much as a football field away.

Unbreakable Cellular Connection

Each of the HD2 Dome’s Dual LTEA radios have redundant SIM card slots. Peplink’s SpeedFusion technology, with hot failover and bandwidth bonding is included with the HD2 Dome. The HD2 Dome can use the strongest cellular networks to assure your connection never breaks. SpeedFusion’s Bandwidth bonding can build one wide connection from two cellular links.

The components included: The HD2 Dome, Ethernet Splitter, and universal mounting bracket.
Mount it Anywhere

The HD2 Dome includes a full range of mounting options. The main unit has an M35 thread for pole mounting, but the other options are included. The HD2 Dome comes with an Ethernet splitter. The splitter enables a second gigabit LAN port and can be used as a second mounting option. With the Ethernet splitter attached an included pivot mounting bracket can be attached for articulating surface or pole mounting.

Extend the HD2 Dome Capabilities with the SIM Injector

The HD2 Dome can be paired with the Pepwave SIM Injector to add eight additional SIM cards, or when the HD2 Dome is mounted in an inaccessible location, a SIM Injector can replace the HD2 Dome’s internal SIMs. If the HD2 Dome is mounted atop an 80 foot mast, the SIM Injector, with its eight card slots can be mounted inside the cabin for easy SIM access. While the HD2 Dome is ideal for worksite, maritime, and mobile applications, several other application will benefit from the potential for remote installations without antenna cables that degrade cellular signals, and the simplicity of single Ethernet wire connectivity. The HD2 Dome is available for order now at Frontier Computer.

Frontier is the World’s Largest Peplink Distributor with more than 600 partner integrators in North America, Europe, and Africa.

Contact Frontier at 866.226.6344.

Peplink included in Gartner Report

Gartner WAN Edge ReportGartner needs no introduction to anyone in the IT world. They are the objective reference source for both existing and emerging technology. Gartner is the tech world’s Oxford English Dictionary, Consumer Reports, and Farmer’s Almanac all rolled into one. It could be argued that an IT trend isn’t real until Gartner reports on it. Gartner’s Magic Quadrants are the Who’s Who of IT market segments.

In this, their first WAN Edge Magic Quadrant, Gartner predicts that by 2023 90% of all WAN Edge replacements will be based on virtual appliances (vCPE) or SD-WAN rather than traditional routers. To simplify, Edge technology is a device or system that creates the virtual or physical boundaries of a network. Traditionally those have been hardware; your data center was the edge of your network. The data center was where your business network started and from there connected to other networks beyond it, including the Internet. As more businesses are eliminating in-house data centers the Edge of the network has become a virtual rather than physical device.

Peplink Makes the Cut

The WAN Edge marketplace, once dominated by the giants like VMware and Cisco, has become a larger sector with several providers at many levels. This first Gardner Magic Quadrant signifies that what started as a trend is now the direction. Peplink’s inclusion in this first Magic Quadrant cannot be overlooked. Peplink has met many required inclusion factors: a significant number of customer installations, a long list of basic and advanced product capabilities, financial performance, and commercial support. Many larger companies did not make the cut, including HP’s Aruba.

Gartner noted that in North America more than 60% of WAN Edge installations are DIY, as opposed to a managed service approach. They predict that of the 90% of businesses replacing traditional data centers, more than half will want a solution they control and manage rather than a vendor controlled package. This could be one of the reasons Peplink has a place in this report. Many Peplink adopters note the ease of both initial set-up and continued management as an early positive in the Peplink experience. Peplink’s ease of installation and user accessible features are ideal for the North American market.

Peplink Leading in Cellular Connections

The report also identified some unique advantages Peplink brings to WAN Edge installations. Peplink was the only company listed that was specifically noted as “optimized for applications where bandwidth is limited.” Gartner recognized Peplink’s expertise and ease in integrating cellular connections, noting “Peplink has a rich set of WAN management and troubleshooting capabilities, particularly relating to wireless issues.”

The report further noted “Peplink can support a large number of links in its platforms and can bond multiple links (wired and wireless) into a single logical link to deliver high-bandwidth connections where others cannot.” Gartner cited one of Peplink’s direct competitor’s lack of T1/M1 interfaces and WAN optimization as a weakness, and noted that the competitor does not offer a Virtual Appliance like Peplink’s FusionHub. Peplink integrates all types of connection, from T1, DSL, and Cable to Satellite and Cellular, which sets it apart from others in the segment. The FusionHub virtual appliance means Peplink’s SpeedFusion bonding, failover, and WAN smoothing technology can be installed inside any cloud architecture without physical hardware.

SD-WAN as a Cost-Saving Measure

In the Market Forecast section Gartner notes: “Many Gartner clients hope to fund their WAN expansion/update by replacing or augmenting expensive MPLS connections with internet-based VPNs, often from alternate providers.” Peplink’s unique ability to integrate all connections has made it a leader for MPLS replacement. Frontier partners using Peplink have built many large MPLS replacements saving customers significant IT dollars and reducing the connection failure risks associated with a single provider. As wireless connections increase and become faster, Peplink is the primary company with experience integrating cellular to supplement or replace wired connections. Gartner cautions, “However, suitability of internet connections varies widely by geography, and service providers.” They warn that as the number of connections and providers increase, so does the complexity. SD-WAN, as provided by Peplink, “has dramatically simplified” integration of multiple sources into one stable connection. At several places in the report, Gartner notes the problems with limited Internet access when adopting WAN Edge deployments, an issue Peplink solved many years ago.

Peplink has been a leader in SD-WAN technology, and as Gartner predicted, 90% of WAN Edge installs will be vCPE or SD-WAN, not traditional routers. Using SD-WAN technology, businesses are freed from the legacy suppliers of enterprise routing. Gartner reports, “The emergence of SD-WAN has demonstrated that routing has been democratized and that many vendors are as good, or perhaps even better, at branch office routing than the incumbents.”

Other than recognition, there is nothing earth shattering in the Gartner Magic Quadrant report, but it is a solid, authoritative acknowledgement of Peplink’s importance in the SD-WAN/WAN Edge segment. It will come as no surprise to the thousands of installed users that Peplink is alone in its ability to use all connections in creating a virtual Edge network, and that Peplink is a leader in wireless connectivity even where bandwidth is limited.

Frontier is the World’s Largest Peplink Distributor with more than 600 partner integrators in North America, Europe, and Africa.

Contact Frontier at 866.226.6344.

Disrupt Your Own Market

photo by Octavian Rosca

If you are ever having trouble sleeping, pick up an article on Digital Disruption. Instead of counting sheep you can count the jargon crammed into every sentence. Sentences with four or more nonsense words get a score of 2. Sentences earn an extra point when every single word is easily understood, but combine into gibberish. The points mean nothing and you don’t have to keep score; you will be asleep by the third sentence.

Here’s a jargon laden jewel from the Gartner IT Glossary: “Digital disruption is an effect that changes the fundamental expectations and behaviors in a culture, market, industry or process that is caused by, or expressed through, digital capabilities, channels or assets.” Yikes. In that mumbo-jumbo there is a nugget of wisdom. The broad concept of Digital Disruption is helpful for describing something we all inherently understand. Let’s translate that Gartner definition: Digital Disruption is when technology changes the way consumers buy things or do stuff.

• People bought books at bookstores. Now they buy them on-line. Amazon used technology to change (disrupt) the way people buy books (and now pretty much everything else).

• People watched their favorite TV shows when they were scheduled. Networks owned the programing and some people planned their days around the network schedule. Now people expect to watch TV when they want to.

• People carried cash. It was the default for commerce when nothing else worked. Now, an entire generation of consumers grew up without cash. Credit and debit cards are being replaced with phone and watch payments. It won’t be long before cash will only be used to pay babysitters and drug dealers, but both are probably taking payments on their phones with Square. Easy, secure payments have disrupted the world of currency.

There is nothing complicated about Digital Disruption. You don’t need a consultant to tell you that any enterprise dependent on limited customer choice or a captive audience will falter when technology opens access. If your business relies on a protected market, or restricted consumer knowledge, your days are numbered.

Lead or Perish

Following digital trends is chasing your tail. You can’t just keep up, and it’s not enough to innovate, for innovations sake. Innovation has to improve your customers’ experience and access. Many small business were built on social media. It was the emerging technology and some people who jumped on quickly had success. But the same social media strategy that worked to sell housewives* yoga pants is not a model that will sell sandpaper to machine shops. Social Media is yesterday’s news, and is now the norm, not disruptive. By the time a market disruption is observed, it’s too late for anything but a me-too position.

The key to digital disruption is creating your own — your own disruption, not your own technology. Again, Gartner is the authority here if you can make sense of their MBAspeak. “Understanding the potential for disruption related to customer outcomes requires an understanding of the value chains within intended customer markets/segments.” Wait, what? Let’s translate: When you know what your customers want, and where they struggle, you can find technology to give them more of what they need, and less of what gets in the way.

Back to the example of network TV: People love episodic entertainment, but they had to make network broadcasts fit their schedules. Networks exploited the very thing people disliked the most, scheduling. They tried to own a night, as with NBC’s “Must See Thursdays” when Seinfeld ruled. The first technology to disrupt this was the VCR, and its refinement, TiVo. People could record and watch shows later, and on their schedules. It took away some of the scheduling problem, but shows were still portioned out in tiny bits like carrots leading the mule.

Streaming technology ended network television (it’s over, they just haven’t figured it out yet). Netflix delivered the deathblow when they released entire seasons of shows in one day. Viewers aren’t going to wait six months to find out what happens when they can find another show that gives them the whole story at their own pace. Not to pick on Network Television, but they are the perfect example of what happens when an industry fights or ignores disruption. When it became clear that owning a night of television was over, networks tried a new strategy, randomly moving favorite shows to different nights to draw an audience to specific day. It didn’t work. Rather than moving viewership, they alienated their customers who expected a specific show in a specific time slot. When their favorite show wasn’t where they expected, they didn’t go looking for it, they turned to Netflix to find something new.

Learn from Netflix

Netflix didn’t disrupt the television industry by creating technology. They used developing technology to give their subscribers what they always wanted, television on their schedules. Netflix didn’t invent the Internet, they didn’t wire it to houses, and they didn’t increase bandwidth. Instead Netflix identified a growing technology and started using it before it was even widely adopted. As more people had increasing bandwidth coming into their homes, Netflix gave them something to do with it.

You do not disrupt your market by creating technology. Creating your own market disruption requires fully understanding what your customers need from your products or services. It requires knowing what aspects of the buying process your customers dislike, but tolerate to get to the good parts. Once you have identified where your customer struggles, you have to find, modify, and exploit technology to reduce or eliminate that pain.

Digital Disruption is a new term for an old concept. In the 19th century the key to success was building a better mousetrap. Digital Disruption is identifying existing technology that gets rid of the mice without a trap at all.

Frontier can help you find the tools you need to disrupt your market.

Contact Frontier at 866.226.6344.

*Housewives still exist, and businesses ignore them at their own peril.