Verizon's IP VPN Opens a New World of Wireless Possibilities

In what may be a first salvo in a new battle among carriers, Verizon's new Private IP Wireless (LTE) service offers the potential to let businesses create private networks that incorporate cell towers while meeting or exceeding the speeds of a wired T1 connection.

Thu, April 19, 2012

CIO — Verizon's announcement yesterday of its new Private IP Wireless (LTE) service is the most recent advance in what appears to be an emerging technology offering for carriers: multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) IP VPNs that span and integrate both wireline and high-speed wireless.

The stakes are high, as the capability to create essentially a private network that incorporates cell towers while meeting or exceeding the speeds of a wired T1 connection open a myriad of new use cases that go well beyond simply providing employees with remote access to corporate resources.

Imagine the Wireless Use Cases

"We notice a lot of companies are actually starting to think outside the box with wireless," says Stephen Goodman, manager of Global Wide Area Solutions Marketing for Verizon. Imagine, for instance, pop-up ATMs that don't require a wired connection deployed along the route of the Boston Marathon or reporters being able to transmit reports with video to their broadcast stations without the need for expensive satellite uplinks and satellite trucks. Vending machines could alert distributors when they need to be restocked, and they could also collect valuable data on customer tastes and preferences. Even digital signage could be transformed.

Some firms are also looking at the offering as a solution for seamless failover to back up a mission-critical location, Goodman says.

"When that dreaded backhoe comes in and cuts your wire, your 4G connection just steps in," he says.

"3G access to MPLS networks has been well-received by the market, particularly in certain verticals, like retail," says Lisa Pierce, managing vice president at research firm Gartner. With the capability to leverage LTE and the dramatically increased bandwidth it offers, she says, many options become available. One that she says she believes has legs is its use in medical settings for remote monitoring on a continual basis. Since monitoring chronic illnesses accounts for roughly 75 percent of medical providers' costs, she says, the capability to monitor patients continually while decreasing doctor visits could reduce costs dramatically.

Secure Communication with MPLS IP VPN over LTE

Verizon's offering combines 4G LTE with Private IP (Verizon's branded MPLS IP VPN), providing the capability to segregate data and verify that traffic is sent and received only by customer-authorized subscribers, with end-to-end connection from the wireless devices to the company's private IP network. Essentially, when a wireless device accesses a cell tower, it is routed to an enterprise gateway in a Verizon switching center, where it is encoded and kept completely separate from the public Internet. Customers can also opt to add encryption for another layer of security.

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