Verizon today added a mission-critical service class to its 4G LTE service, allowing businesses to give selected applications higher traffic prioritization and security. Aimed primarily at Internet of Things applications, Verizon's Private Network Traffic Management over 4G LTE offering is being billed as a US wireless industry first.
Kathryn Weldon, principal analyst for Enterprise Mobility with Current Analysis , agrees that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is first out of the gate with this business application of 4G LTE's Internet Protocol capabilities, but admits she doesn't know how far behind other wireless operators are in making what seems to be a logical move. (See Verizon Intros Private Networking Via LTE.)
"The traffic management part in particular is something no one else is doing right now, that I know of," Weldon tells Light Reading. "When 4G LTE was first on the horizon, everyone was saying that now we can have QoS, which is important for wireless apps. But for some reason, I'm not sure why, I've never heard another operator actually say they've done it."
The new service is foundational for IoT because it allows businesses to prioritize their applications at the times when wireless networks are congested, to make sure that mission-critical traffic gets through, says Carlos Benavides, associate director with Verizon's Product Management team. Many IoT applications use very small data streams but can't afford to have connections fail in times of congestion.
"This is a real game-changer for us, because until now, no one has been able to offer a mission-critical class of wireless service," Benavides says.
The service also helps enterprises whose employees increasingly access cloud-based applications from their mobile devices and need the kind of guaranteed bandwidth while mobile that they have in the office. It's a clear example of how wireless access is evolving in the New IP world of scalable, cloud-based mobile networks.
Given how many billions of devices are expected to be connected for IoT, the ability to prioritize the traffic streams will only become more important, notes analyst Weldon. "The vast majority of IoT customers are using some kind of connection to an MPLS network for added security anyway, so this kind of service makes a lot of sense."
The offer is subscription-based, requiring a monthly fee per user, and available only to Verizon Private Network customers, who can add 4G LTE devices to their traffic management, with options for class of service. There is an enhanced option that reserves 2 Mbit/s of LTE bandwidth for mission-critical apps and a top-tier service available exclusively to public safety customers to enable emergency services or first responders to have the highest transmission priority available for their critical communication.
"Our vision is borderless connectivity that securely integrates wireless devices to Verizon's global IP network and serves as foundation of the Internet of Things," Benavides says. The result is improved productivity for its customers and guaranteed quality of service for IoT and other applications.
The new capability can be used in either mobile or fixed wireless access, and could spur some enterprises to move into wireless access for some applications, he adds. At the very least, he says, they could start viewing 4G LTE access as more than backup service for some common applications, such as connections to ATM machines as well as IoT apps.
Analyst Weldon says it's less clear how this will help Verizon competitively, since other operators may quickly step up to this level of service. If they don't this could help Verizon in selling its private network services to those with mission-critical IoT applications.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading