Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 3G, 4G, Antenna, Backhaul, LTE, Offload Data, Rural Coverage, Wifi
Cellular 4G LTE vs WiFi
To cope with the exponential increase in data demand since the introduction of the Smartphone, many wireless carriers have been trying a variety of solutions to help meet the needs of their customers. In some cases, these service providers find themselves with a troubling choice: they can either offload their cellular traffic to public, unlicensed WiFi networks, or risk losing customers to their competitors. It is understandable that most would choose the former, but the increasingly widespread practice of WiFi offloading has many cell site owners concerned about the implications. Could this offloading practice take business from cellular providers and site owners, or worse– render them obsolete?
Experts think not. In fact, the practice of WiFi offloading isn’t nearly the threat to cellular service that it might seem at first glance. While there are certainly issues with this practice that will require a bit of patience, flexibility, and extra preparedness from cell site owners and renters, there are still several challenges in the wireless industry that make cellular service a necessity. In fact, issues particular to WiFi capability not only ensure cellular services’ secure position in the wireless data industry, but could also prove a boon to savvier investors.
Meeting Hotspot Requirements
No matter their size, any given WiFi access point will have limitations in both service radius and number of users that can be supported at once. Hence, the growing demand for WiFi hotspots, and the access points available at each, has many wireless carriers scrambling to develop new cellular sites and improve those already in existence. This means more investment opportunities for cell site owners and renters alike.
Even with their best efforts, there are still significant gaps to be found in WiFi coverage, particularly in more rural areas. As a result, customers continue to utilize cellular coverage as the more reliable option. Since WiFi planning and development often takes several years to process and implement, cell tower owners in these areas are particularly secure from any threats that could be posed by WiFi offloading.
On the other side of the coin, more population-dense areas are facing an over-saturation of data access points in WiFi hotspots. This overload of competing access points creates interference between WiFi carriers, which diminishes both security and quality of user experience. In these scenarios, cellular service provides an access point with greater security and protection from interference, enhancing the user experience on all points.
As a result, a large percentage of users continue to rely on cellular coverage even in thriving WiFi hotspots. Those owning or renting cell towers in these areas may do well to upgrade their sites to keep up with evolving WiFi technology, but maintaining the quality of cellular technology on site will also be crucial to the property’s value.
Meeting the Demands of High Call Volumes
Along with their limitations in terms of radius and user capacity, WiFi also faces challenges in terms of high call volumes. Most WiFi access points can only handle 15 calls simultaneously, and this number decreases in areas of high interference. As long as people continue making voice calls, the need for reliable cellular towers will remain constant. This is especially true in areas that experience higher call volumes, such as neighborhoods rich in multifamily housing and city business districts.
Ensuring Seamless Connectivity
Currently, most WiFi access points require users to sign in at least once to be able to use the network. This inconvenience is strongly felt by those in transit, in the midst of a conference, or for those handling time-sensitive matters over the network. As such, most users opt for cellular service for hassle-free access to their data network. While steps are being taken to make WiFi access a smoother process for users, it will require protocol development and technological updates that will take several years to implement. The process will also require additional partnership and cooperation with cellular service providers, creating a potential benefaction for cell tower owners.
Maintaining Continued Security in a Changing Industry
With WiFi service providers facing challenges that only cellular providers can overcome, cell tower owners can take assurance that their property is certain to maintain its value in the years to come. However, there are steps that cell site owners and renters can take to not only ensure this security’s longevity, but to increase property value in the interim. By practicing savviness and adaptability, cell site owners can ensure the continued worth of their investment for many years to come. The consultants at Lease Advisors are prepared for such contingencies and are ready to help cell tower owners make the most of the changing times. By offering their expertise and insight, they can help turn this potentially worrying trend into a long-lasting advantage for you and your investment.