How to use the power of Wi-Fi and private wireless to boost digital transformation
Optimize your network reliability and performance with MX Boost that bonds Wi-Fi with 4.9G/5G
Tristan Barraud de Lagerie
Head of Private Wireless Marketing
Private wireless networks based on 4.9G/LTE or 5G are gaining increasing traction in asset-intensive industries. Nokia is currently providing private wireless solutions to more than 485 customers as of August 2022.
However, Wi-Fi has a role within Industry 4.0, even as digital transformation advances on a broad front. In fact, most of those customers are enterprises with brownfield campuses, which means they have legacy wireless connectivity in place, such as Wi-Fi, that cannot simply be switched off.
Industries using Wi-Fi technology may decide to add industrial 4.9G/LTE and 5G devices for specific use cases – often in contexts where Wi-Fi has limitations with regard to mobility, coverage, and interference management.
In circumstances where industrial locations use a mix of connectivity technologies, the enterprises concerned need a solution that will enable them both to extract the maximum value from the different systems deployed and to mitigate the resulting complexity.
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Get more information about how 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.
How does MX Boost work to reduce technological complexity?
Nokia MX Boost is a new innovation, a Nokia Bell Labs patented technology that makes it easy to combine private wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi. It delivers an aggregated multi-path connectivity that supports OT use cases. Industries and enterprises benefit from:
- an optimized throughput in difficult radio conditions.
- improved data processing in highly critical applications.
MX Boost is an IP-based solution, which means it is extremely simple to implement and has a minimal impact on the network solutions it uses. It is deployed as a bonding and routing application on Nokia’s MX Industrial Edge, and on its multi-modem industrial devices. It works without any changes on wireless access points, making it completely agnostic when it comes to radio technology, spectrum and vendor.
Enterprises can run MX Boost in one of two modes to meet the needs of different applications:
- Aggregation mode: This boosts data rates in difficult radio conditions by splitting and recombining traffic for multiple channels. It includes performance probes on both links to measure in real time the quality of the channels to optimize reliability.
- Replication mode: This duplicates the data and puts the same packets on all radio links, then automatically selects the best one. The aim is to boost reliability, latency and mobility.
What is a typical implementation of MX Boost?
The most typical usage of MX Boost is to aggregate Wi-Fi 6 and 4.9G/LTE for business-critical OT applications that require high data rates, capacity and quality in specific hotspots.
For example, it takes up to 10 cameras to enable remote control of a port train. A combination of Wi-Fi and 4.9G/LTE bandwidth allows for the exclusive use of 4K cameras. If there is a degradation of the quality of the Wi-Fi connectivity, MX Boost automatically switches back to 4.9G/LTE and to HD cameras.
There are many other data-hungry applications, such as high-quality sensor-based applications for multi-metal impurity detection, and augmented reality maintenance applications.
In some countries, industries have access to multiple spectrum bands. So MX Boost can be used to combine various radio technology types like 4G and 5G, and multiple spectrum bands such as centimeter wave, millimeter wave, or disparate 4G bands.
Enterprises can use MX Boost to replicate data connectivity on two 4.9G/LTE bands to improve reliability, which is interesting in areas with challenging radio conditions such as ports, metal factories, and mines.
What benefits does being vendor agnostic bring?
This is a significant benefit in an age when many enterprise environments are multi-vendor. MX Boost is based on the IP layer, which delivers huge flexibility for the integration of existing connectivity technologies – including in multi-vendor environments, which is important in the context of supporting legacy Wi-Fi.
In the past, it has been said that Wi-Fi is suitable only for IT applications because of its inherent limitations in coverage, mobility, latency, and reliability. However, with MX Boost, it is possible to use Wi-Fi for non-critical OT applications. By using MX Boost in replication, it is possible to get the best performance and reliability from several Wi-Fi bands at the same time – such as Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E – and to support applications such as operation management tools, storage systems, and worker information systems.
How is Nokia strengthening its Wi-Fi portfolio?
There is little doubt that 4.9G/LTE and 5G private wireless networks will become the predominant connectivity choice for manufacturers and other asset-intensive industries looking to reap the benefits of digitalization and Industry 4.0.
However, a recent ABI survey showed that many enterprises still see Wi-Fi – and especially Wi-Fi 6 and 6E – as a viable connectivity option for some non-critical operations.
Nokia is integrating Wi-Fi as part of its Nokia Digital Automation Cloud. By deploying Nokia DAC Wi-fi, enterprises can make a seamless transition to private wireless as their needs evolve. For other enterprises that have deployed the Nokia industrial-grade private wireless solution, Nokia DAC Wi-Fi can be ideal in providing a complementary capacity layer at specific locations for non-critical applications.
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