6 min read

Don't just buy any 4G LTE Router. Buy one supercharged with SD-WAN.

More and more businesses are adopting 4G LTE either to set up a backup network connection or to gain internet access when other means, such as Cable and DSL, are not available.

The trend is seen easily when searching for "4G LTE router" online. You will pull back hundreds of options.

Most 4G LTE routers available on the market today are traditional routers integrated with a 4G LTE modem. Some are available for less than $300 and may easily fit into your existing networks.

But the questions you may want to ask are, do they solve your connectivity problems, or do they create more issues that require expensive upgrades to other devices in your network?

Here are the top seven things to consider when buying a 4G LTE router.

1. What if the 4G LTE coverage in your area is weak for a particular carrier?

Would you need to make a switch to the carrier with the better signal coverage?

You may want to look for a router that supports multiple carriers. But all you need to do is change the SIMM card for the select carrier to use their network.

First, the software on the router will most likely need to be updated before you can switch to a different carrier.

If you are a business deploying thousands of sites, you may want to look for a solution in which the software update is automated and can be remotely managed.

An SD-WAN device with a fully remote management capability through cloud orchestration makes it easy with a single click.

2. Does your existing router support multiple WAN links?

If you are using the 4G LTE router as a backup link, you will need to consider two important issues. Your existing router will need to support multiple WAN links as well as a failover mechanism.

Routers supporting such features are expensive, and unless you already have one deployed in the network, you will need to upgrade your existing router also to support a 4G LTE backup link.

Further, the existing router will need the ability to automatically switch over to the backup link when the primary link goes down, then switch back when it comes back up again.

This type of functionality is typically supported in more expensive routers with load-balancing capabilities.

An SD-WAN-enabled 4G LTE router supports multiple WAN links by default and does automatic failover switching. Multiple-WAN-link support within SD-WAN edge devices is designed to support MPLS-like reliability over broadband internet connections.

3. Which applications get priority when the backup link is in use?

Most 4G LTE data plans are expensive and offer limited bandwidth compared to other broadband services.

You may want to control which applications or users should be allowed to use the backup link.

Otherwise, you may end up with huge overage charges on your data plan or end up with business-critical applications not functioning at the required performance levels.

This level of control requires application-intelligent traffic forwarding and advanced Quality of Service (QoS) controls that are available only in more expensive traditional routers.

This comes as a default in an SD-WAN-enabled LTE router. SD-WAN edge devices are designed to support application-intelligent traffic-forwarding to achieve MPLS-like QoS.

4. Is your backup link also secure?

Whenever you add new devices to your network, you may need to ensure that currently enforced security and access controls, along with advanced application-specific threat prevention mechanisms, are enforced on those devices and connections.

This may require reconfiguration of firewalls and other security devices on premise, and in some cases, modification to security infrastructure at the data center or the headquarters.

If you are a business deploying 4G LTE at thousands of sites, this could be a management challenge.

This security can be easily handled by an SD-WAN infrastructure using SD-WAN 4G LTE edge devices.

SD-WAN is a cloud-deployed software defined network in which most of the networking functionality is performed in the cloud with simple premise-deployed edge devices.

Further, within the cloud, an SD-WAN infrastructure allows service insertion in which a new network-level service can be deployed in the cloud and made available throughout the network.

In the case of security enhancements, one can deploy multiple levels of security services all in the cloud and make them effective across the entire network, from single-pane-management interface offered by SD-WAN cloud orchestration.

5. Do I need a private cloud for SD-WAN 4G LTE?

Cloud networking with SD-WAN can be deployed either in a public, private, or hybrid cloud. Most vendors offer the ability to deploy the SD-WAN infrastructure in any of these combinations.

If using a public cloud, the SD-WAN infrastructure is typically run on public cloud services such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and others.

SD-WAN offers the ability to create a Private Cloud over a Public Cloud ensuring that the entire network infrastructure, though deployed on public cloud, is still very secure and reliable.

One other significant advantage of using a public cloud is that an enterprise can build a globally available network infrastructure at a significantly lower cost.

6. How about IoT device connectivity using 4G LTE routers?

Remote IoT sites typically use 4G LTE as a network connection and connect to the cloud or data-center-deployed applications for IoT analytics and management of these IoT sites.

The two ends of these connections are typically encrypted and secured over VPN connections using IPSec or SSL. When thousands or tens of thousands of such sites are being remotely connected, the data centers or the remote IoT applications need to terminate these secure tunnels using expensive VPN devices.

SD-WAN offers simplified VPN solutions that are easy to set up and manage without requiring expensive endpoint devices.

SD-WAN was initially designed to support branch connectivity as an MPLS replacement and current SD-WAN infrastructures may need upgrades to support thousands of remote IoT sites. Netsurion Connect offers an SD-WAN infrastructure solution designed for IoT applications that is highly scalable and supports tens of thousands of remote sites and eliminates complex VPN devices at the data centers.

7. Is SD-WAN expensive compared to traditional routers?

Most SD-WAN services are available on a monthly subscription basis and it won't break the bank for an enterprise.

Considering the fact that there may be several other upgrades required in your existing network to support new 4G LTE connectivity, a cloud-delivered services model offers SD-WAN without having to constantly upgrade your network devices. This provides a compelling and future-proof solution both in terms of price and functionality.

With all the benefits of SD-WAN, businesses are deploying SD-WAN-enabled 4G LTE edge devices instead of traditional 4G LTE routers. Next there's security and compliance.