Overview of Private LTE and Wi-Fi Networks
Ensuring reliable and efficient connectivity on the jobsite has become more critical than ever. The rise of technologies, such as private LTE and Wi-Fi networks, have made it possible to attain high-quality connectivity in the trailer, field, and corporate office. While Wi-Fi networks have been around for a while, the emergence of private LTE networks has brought in new opportunities for enhancing connectivity. Private LTE has quickly proven to be a robust option for construction project owners, architects, general contractors, subcontractors, and project managers who demand high security, reliability, and low latency connectivity.
What distinguishes private LTE from Wi-Fi networks?
Both provide options to extend connectivity across the jobsite. Private LTE is a wireless broadband technology that operates over licensed radio spectrum and provides greater coverage and security than Wi-Fi. These private networks use access points that do not route through an internet service provider (ISP) to make internet available to the entire field of work. On the other hand, Wi-Fi networks are based off the internet connection from the local service provider to the trailer. Wi-Fi access points placed across the jobsite can extend the network from the trailer out to the field of work. They provide reliable short-range wireless connectivity, making Wi-Fi more suitable than PLTE for small-scale deployments.
PLTE Use Cases:
- Connected workers
- Live communication
- Security cameras
- Asset management
- Safety systems
Benefits of Private LTE in Comparison to Wi-Fi
As construction sites grow increasingly complex and require advanced connectivity, it’s important to choose the right network for the job. Private LTE’s strengths include increased performance, reliability, and security. Additionally, private LTE uses stronger radios, meaning it can provide more extensive coverage with fewer access points than Wi-Fi, and connected workers can operate across a larger area with less infrastructure on the back end. When it comes to security cameras, fire alarms, and Push-to-Talk devices, private LTE provides a dedicated, high-speed connection that can handle large volumes of data without interference or interruption. It also offers Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), a unique feature that allocates spectrum based on demand, ensuring consistent coverage and avoiding overcrowding the network. With Private LTE, construction sites can enjoy faster and more reliable connectivity, leading to improved operations and increased safety.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Private LTE and Wi-Fi
Availability of power source
One important difference between private LTE and Wi-Fi is the amount of power sources needed to operate. Because private LTE requires less hardware, it also requires less access to power making it a more cost-effective choice.
Size of the jobsite
Your connectivity decision is always influenced by the size of the construction jobsite. Private LTE radios are stronger, so they can provide more extensive coverage with fewer access points across the jobsite. Wi-Fi access points do not individually cover as wide of an area, so more access points are often needed, and connectivity can be susceptible to dropping if ranges don’t quite meet up. When it comes to scalability, private LTE’s coverage capabilities can mean less hardware relocation to keep workers connected.
Current devices that need connectivity
Wi-Fi technology has been around for longer and has greater integration across devices. Private LTE may not work on outdated technology like old-model phones and tablets, essentially forcing companies to upgrade their devices, which may be a cost that they don’t want to incur. Fortunately, modern devices can be easily added to a private LTE network via a physical SIM card or eSIM.
Private LTE networks are not visible to the general public, and each device has its own private session on the network, inherently making these networks more secure. Wi-Fi networks are visible to the devices within range and accessible through passwords that have to be shared. Because of this, poor security protocols amongst workers can make Wi-Fi networks more susceptible to security threats and hacking. Both Wi-Fi and private LTE can be vulnerable to user error, such as clicking on a malicious link or website while connected to the network. To ensure maximum security, construction companies must carefully evaluate and implement appropriate measures for both private LTE and Wi-Fi networks to mitigate potential risks and threats.
Ultimately, deciding between private LTE and Wi-Fi requires careful consideration of each technology’s strengths and limitations within the realm of what your jobsite needs.
Cost Comparison of Private LTE vs Wi-Fi
Private LTE capabilities have expanded a lot in recent years. While many still believe that traditional Wi-Fi is the cheaper option, the truth is that Private LTE can actually be less expensive when looking at the overall costs, especially for large jobsites. This is because Private LTE requires less infrastructure compared to Wi-Fi, including less need for CAT 6 cables, access points, and power sources. This not only means a lower setup cost, but also lower labor costs in order to maintain the network in the long run. On small jobsites, the infrastructure cost savings may not balance out the higher cost of the radios. If you’re looking to optimize costs while maintaining reliable network connectivity, private LTE can be an excellent choice for your construction jobsite.
|Traditional Wi-Fi||Private LTE|
|Power dependent for total jobsite coverage||Least power dependency for total jobsite coverage|
|Cabling/hardwiring required||Turn-key solution|
|Additional access points required for scalability||Scalable as the jobsite grows|
|Subject to signal interference||Less signal interference|
|Security is based on end-user||Use both physical and digital security measures|
How to Set Up a Private LTE Network for Construction Sites
Construction sites are challenging locations for traditional network infrastructures due to constant physical changes, unpredictable environmental conditions, and limited area coverage. However, a private LTE network can provide reliable and secure communications between job site personnel, machines, and remote management teams.
To set up a private LTE network for construction sites, one must first choose an FCC-licensed installer. Then, the network infrastructure must be deployed and configured by trained and certified personnel, such as the ConstructEdge team. Finally, each device that will connect to the PLTE network will need to have a cellular SIM setup within the device, either eSIM or physical SIM card. To learn more about ConstructEdge’s Private Jobsite LTE, and how construction companies can improve collaboration, productivity, and safety while reducing costs and delays, contact our sales team or visit constructedge.com for more information.