Chapter 1 Networking and digital signage
1G, 2G and 3G
4G/LTE, Sprint 4G (based on Sprint 4G WiMax Technology) and beyond
Chapter 2 The key business advantages of cellular networks
Reliable and ready to go
Freeing up the IT staff
Mobility and flexibility anywhere, anytime
Plenty of bandwidth
The 4G factor
Chapter 3 3G/4G digital signage in the real world
Brands in retail stores
The retail chain store
Ad network operators
Interactive digital signage systems and kiosk hybrids
Waiting rooms and break rooms
Banks and financial institutions
For years, digital signage deployments were shaped by the limitations of the on-site network connection. If the signage was to be on a network — that is, if it required a remote update and management component or needed to be remotely monitored— then it had to be located in an area that supported a hardwired network or Wi-Fi infrastructure, complete with either hubs and cabling or individually configured Wi-Fi access points. Cabled and Wi-Fi networks dictated how digital signage was deployed, but also where it was deployed.
That meant networked signage was found only in sites where the deployer or operator had access to, and control over, the on-site network. In many cases, it wasn't feasible to tap into or create a remote, stand-alone network for financial, regulatory, technical, security or other reasons. The inherent complexities of on-site, hardwired or Wi-Fi networks has constrained and limited the deployment of digital signage in virtually all markets including retail, education, banking, corporate communications, manufacturing, health care and others.
Cabled and Wi-Fi networks represent expensive and complex deployments, with increased costs and decreased practicality and flexibility. Hardwired infrastructure continues to be a burden for IT departments to set up, especially in cabling fees, not to mention ongoing management. Add to that the extra security, bandwidth limiters and network-load balancing typically necessary to accommodate a digital signage network riding a company's Internet or intranet backbone and the complexity increases. And finally, most digital signage buyers are from the communications side of the business, and typically see increased IT investment and maintenance expenses as something to be avoided, if at all possible.
Some locations couldn't support networked signage due to the inability to connect to the Internet. Running a cable may have been too difficult, or Wi-Fi access points may have been unavailable. In addition, transitory or mobile systems — systems that are constantly on the move and can’t be tethered to a fixed location — also can’t continually search for a Wi-Fi connection. For such systems, connectivity was impossible. Impossible, that is, until recent developments in cellular networks. Today’s 3G and 4G cellular networks offer unprecedented advantages to digital signage networks. Cellular technology makes digital signage more cost-effective, practical and flexible. Digital signage networks that run on 3G/4G wireless broadband Internet support provide all of the capabilities of a hardwired network without its inherent limitations. And today, having a digital signage network on a secure and separate network (a goal that is often unattainable on cabled or Wi-Fi networks without extensive investment) is critical.
Thanks to this new technology, digital signage can be deployed virtually anywhere, even in the most remote locations. New meaning is given to the term "remote control and management." The reaction time of the network is shortened, maintenance alerts are provided instantaneously and the cost and complexity of the network is cut to manageable levels — whether the network is in an office in Manhattan or the most remote rural regions, as long as a cell tower is accessible.
Recent developments in cellular technology portend a greater array of features for digital signage networks. The advent of 4G, the fourth generation of cellular-based wireless broadband Internet connectivity, promises to bring a new level of content to networks, including increased bandwidth, interactivity and on-demand video. Although 3G networking provided a breakthrough for networks of digital signage, 4G is expected to be the "tipping point" for a new generation of wireless digital signage deployments as it eliminates any remaining variance between hard-wired, high bandwidth networks.
So what is a 3G/4G wireless broadband or cellular-based network? And what can it do for your digital signage deployment? Those are the questions this guide is designed to answer for both the business-oriented and technology-focused reader.