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Accelerate Industry 4.0 connectivity with private wireless that bonds Wi-Fi with 4.9G/5G

Containers on a cargo ship

Private 4.9G/LTE and 5G networks are gaining more and more traction in asset-intensive industries to power new and innovative Industry 4.0 use cases.

However, enterprises within these industries generally cannot simply switch off their legacy wireless solutions and they will use them for years to come. Over time, they may convert some of these solutions by adding a suitable industrial 4.9/LTE and 5G modem or field routers, particularly when the legacy technology creates an issue for a specific use case. But this is still a lengthy process and in other cases, the benefits of doing so may not be obvious.

For these reasons, industrial sites often end up with, for example, a mix of Wi-Fi for information technology (IT) and some less critical operational technology (OT) applications, and private wireless for OT and more critical applications. They may also deploy multiple 4.9G/LTE spectrum bands as they ramp up connectivity and capacity on their way to full reliance on private wireless. So how can they extract maximum value from all these radio technologies and avoid increasing complexity?

Our answer is a new innovation called Nokia MX Boost to enable industrial multi-layer connectivity.

In a nutshell, this unique Nokia Bell Labs-patented technology makes it easy to combine 4.9G/LTE or 5G private wireless networks with Wi-Fi or any other connectivity technology. The result is aggregated multi-layer connectivity that supports OT use cases by optimizing throughput in difficult radio conditions or improving determinism for very critical applications.

Three operating modes, countless connectivity options

 MX Boost is an IP-based solution, which means that it’s extremely simple to implement and has a limited impact on the network solutions it uses. It’s deployed as a bonding and routing application on our MX Industrial Edge and multi-modem MX Boost-capable industrial devices. It works without requiring changes or specific algorithms on wireless access points, making it completely radio technology, spectrum and vendor agnostic.

Enterprises can run MX Boost in one of three modes to meet the needs of different applications:

  • Aggregation mode boosts data rates in difficult radio conditions by splitting and recombining traffic from multiple radio channels. It includes real-time probes on both links to measure their real-time performance to optimize reliability and latency.

  • Replication mode automatically selects the best radio link and boosts reliability, latency and mobility by duplicating the same packets on all radio links.

  • Mobility mode enables automatic switchovers between different networks based on the health and performance of each radio link. This ensures uninterrupted connectivity should network quality of one of the links degrade.

The best connectivity for every use case

The three operating modes of MX Boost give enterprises more flexibility to use all the wireless technology and radio assets available at a given site to meet the demands of their OT applications. We’ve thought of a few interesting combinations for different types of applications.

Enhancing business-critical OT applications in hotspots

Enterprises can use MX Boost in aggregation mode to combine Wi-Fi 6E with 4.9G/5G private wireless for business-critical OT applications that require high data rates, capacity and quality in specific hotspots. For example, it takes up to ten cameras to enable remote control of a port crane. The mix of Wi-Fi plus 4.9G/5G allows for the exclusive use of 4K cameras when Wi-Fi connectivity is good enough. MX Boost automatically switches back to 4.9G/5G and full HD if congestion or interference degrades the Wi-Fi connection.

The combination of Wi-Fi and 4.9G/5G can also meet the needs of other data-hungry applications, including high-quality sensor-based applications (for example molten metal impurity detection) and augmented reality (AR) maintenance applications.

Ensuring frictionless handovers across coverage areas

Enterprises can use MX Boost in mobility mode to ensure seamless network handovers between Wi-Fi and 4.9G/5G private wireless networks. This is crucial where operations rely on machines moving across different connectivity footprints, such as AGVs/AMRs, forklifts or mining trucks. MX Boost manages the handover phase between the networks, so machines stay connected and operations can run smoothly and without interruption.

Increasing determinism for mission-critical OT applications in challenging environments

Enterprises can use MX Boost in replication mode and combine Wi-Fi with 4.9G/5G private wireless to increase the reliability and latency for critical machine operations. This ensures that remote-controlled and autonomous machines such as AMRs, port cranes or mining excavators run without delay or interruption to improve productivity and machine uptime. Similarly, the reliability and latency gains from this combination of Wi-Fi and private wireless are crucial to aid life-critical worker safety applications, such as worker biometrics or machine perimeter fencing. This is an important step towards achieving and eventually surpassing five-nine’s reliability with a future evolution to combine multiple 4G and 5G paths.

Anticipating the use of innovative new use cases

In future, the evolution of technical capabilities will further expand the possibilities of technology combinations and use case applications. Enterprises could use MX Boost in replication mode and combine two 4.9G bands or one 4.9G and one 5G band for extremely critical OT applications that require very high determinism or ultra-reliable low latency. This mode could be particularly useful in highly loaded network environments and environments with challenging radio conditions such as those found in ports, metal factories and mines. Applications in this extremely critical category include cloud programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and wireless connecting emergency systems.

Why should enterprises consider MX Boost?

  • Extract maximum value from and unify disparate radio technologies – particularly Wi-Fi and private wireless

  • Increase data rates in hotspots while maintaining private wireless reliability

  • Improve reliability for heavily used private wireless networks and in challenging environments

  • Provide the stable low latency required for innovative pre-5G R16-17 use cases

  • Ensure seamless network handovers to maximize productivity and machine uptime

  • Get the most from spectrum assets

Visit our web page to learn more about how MX Boost can provide reliable, high-performance multi-layer connectivity for your critical uses and help you reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 sooner.

Tristan Barraud de Lagerie

About Tristan Barraud de Lagerie

Tristan leads the portfolio marketing for Nokia private wireless innovations, aiming at the sustainable digital transformation of cities, transportation, public safety and industries. Enthusiastic by nature, Tristan is pushed by a constant wish that innovation can positively impact society and help prevent climate change.

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