The frequencies used in ordinary Wi-Fi face difficulty penetrating concrete on large construction sites, but there is a more viable alternative. In an interview, Insight Enterprises’ Rob Parsons explores the promise and challenges of Citizens Broadband Radio Service and gives examples of how it provides on-site connections with a “much reduced footprint of devices, of infrastructure, of ethernet, of fiber and of power.”
WiFi continues to be the networking infrastructure of choice for most enterprise applications, but some believe it has limited value in settings such as large construction sites and associated outdoor shipping yards. Challenges include distance, throughput and the difficulty of penetrating metal or concrete when using WiFi’s 2.5GHz and 5GHz radio-frequency spectrums.
Proponents of alternative technologies say private LTE and 5G networks solve these problems by operating in the 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz radio spectrum. They say the technology overcomes WiFi’s limitations and also requires fewer access points, reduces battery consumption, and enables connectivity in large outdoor environments where WiFi is simply not practical.
SmartBrief recently spoke with Rob Parsons, practice director, network and integrated security at Insight Enterprises, to learn how this alternative can help the construction industry address its networking challenges. This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
SmartBrief: Why is connectivity such a pain point for contractors?
Parsons: Traditional wireless connectivity has a limited range based on the frequency that is used by the wireless network. Whether it’s 2.4 or 5 gigahertz, they both have different properties. When you start talking about at-scale wireless networks or a physical scale, you start to need a number of different access points to cover a specific environment.