Some Interesting Applications of 3G Networks for the Enterprise

We have always been thinking that technologies like 3G are predominantly for the consumer segment using 3G enabled mobile phones. You’d be surprised to know how many applications 3G has enabled for the enterprise segment as well. Read on to find out why 3G gives a new meaning to mobility in the enterprise.

3G - Third Generation Networks

We all know that 3G is a high speed mobile broadband technology that enables high speed Internet access, video calling between two 3G enabled mobile phones, watch video streaming applications like TV  programs and movies, play high speed video games, conduct secure banking transactions, View GPS positioning information, Online Maps etc for personal applications. But its time to move beyond these personal services and look at the enterprise applications that are being enabled by 3G for improving the productivity of the employees and to save costs for the organization.

Enterprise Applications for 3G Technology

Video Surveillance Monitoring using 3G Network:

These days, having network cameras to monitor your campus or factory has become common place and one of the main reasons for that is the remote monitoring ability provided by IP surveillance cameras through a public network like the Internet. Taking this one step forward, a few network cameras come with mobile surveillance capabilities. They allow you to use the 3G network to see the output of a network camera placed in your factory or home, right on the screen of your 3G enabled Smart Phone whereever you are, whenever you want. In fact, you can use the 3G network even while traveling in a car (in the areas where 3G network coverage is present). Ain’t that cool?

Video Conferencing from anywhere using 3G Network:

Earlier, a video conference meant an expensive set-top based video conferencing system that was usually kept at the conference rooms of enterprise companies. When employees wanted to conduct a video conference session, they need to go to the conference room, ask the remote personnel to assemble at their conference room as well and then dial out a video conferencing session. But these days, the set top video conferencing equipments do exist, but people connect with it differently. They can use a personal desktop based client software, Web-cam, head set/ microphone and make a call to the set-top video conferencing system in the conference room, to initiate or join an ongoing video conference. The same concept, works from remote places as well, and here is where the high speed 3G networks help! Employees need to pre-load the personal video conferencing client to their Laptops, connect a 3G USB data card to connect to the Internet and call the set-top video conferencing system back in the office or anywhere else  for  doing a Video Conference… 3G has made things so simple! Of course, a VPN network might be required for enabling the above connectivity for security reasons.

Now, if you are traveling in your car and perhaps struck up in a traffic jam (or) you are waiting at your customer place and do not have the laptop in your hands, it is still possible to connect to that important video conference session using 3G enabled mobile phones! There are 3G Gateway solutions available which help connect the set top based video conference systems and 3G enabled mobile phones (with a camera in the front) so that you can still participate or initiate a video conference session to any set top based video conferencing system, anywhere in the world provided you have the required authorizations, of course. In fact, you can also see any presentation that the remote user might be making in addition to being able to see and talk to them. Now, that is what we call a killer application that enables true mobility! And yes, it is made possible because of 3G networks.

Making Remote Access Network Connectivity for small branches/ temporary locations simple and easy using 3G Network:

Enabling remote users (especially from small branches, home offices and temporary locations (project site, for example) to access the corporate resources back in the head office securely has always been a challenge. But now, with just a remote access point and direct 3G termination(through a USB 3G Modem) on the remote access point, you can not only establish a secure VPN Tunnel back to the head office (through the Internet enabled by high speed 3G connectivity) but also allow local users to connect to the remote access points without cables using the Wi-Fi technology. This enables the users in the small branches to access the Internet as well as the centralized application servers hosted in the corporate data centers using the remote access  solution and 3G Network. So, this makes connecting remote locations simple, cost effective and fast (as there is no need to wait till the service provider brings the optic fiber/ copper  cables to the individual branch locations).

Enabling (Partial) Access to critical enterprise applications like ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence on your Mobile Phone Using 3G Network:

No one wants a complete access to all the modules of their ERP or CRM applications on the mobile. But there are certain critical functions that could help employees do things faster if partial access is enabled on the mobile phones. For example, a director or regional manager might be on tour and a number of important approval requests might be waiting for him on the CRM system. Current ERP technologies allow such approvals and even allow access to a mobile version of the desktop ERP/CRM application, which can be used by them to give approvals even while they are on the move. More and more main stream applications are being ported on to the mobile – Like the sales cycle update information, service person updating the call status, instant order booking for the retail segment, Maps and GPS information for cargo handling personnel, and many more. They were existent even with 2G/2.5G networks. Now, all these applications and many more can be confidently brought to the mobile platform due to the faster connectivity speeds enabled by 3G/3.5G networks. Even simple applications like downloading a big email attachment on the mobile is easier now due to 3G.

Reduce Long Distance Voice Call Charges using VOIP Communications and 3G Network:

We implement VOIP system in enterprise/ corporate networks in order to reduce the ongoing telephone call charges (especially the inter-branch communications and long distance call charges). But what if an organization has a huge field force who keep traveling frequently? Obviously they would make all the calls with their cell phones and at the end of the day, the company needs to reimburse all those cell phone expenses. A CUG (Closed User Group) can be implemented among all the employees in order to reduce the inter-employee call charges, but what about those international call charges, especially for top management which keeps roaming (implies the literal meaning as well as cell phone roaming charges) multiple countries frequently?

This is where the VOIP Service providers, also called ITSP – Internet Telephony Service Providers, along with the 3G network, help. Basically the ITSP allows the employees to download a Client software to their mobiles and make telephone calls to many international locations using the Internet. The speeds provided by the 3G network would make sure that the quality of voice calls in a lossy network (Internet) is good enough. For example, you can download a VOIP Client from certain service providers for mobile phones and make calls to any PSTN number in many countries (In India, calling to local or STD numbers is not yet allowed on the Internet, but calling to international numbers – to both cell phone and land-line, is allowed). The VOIP services reduce the long distance call charges for a company considerably in the long run and if properly planned, even the International roaming charges can be reduced by forwarding the calls to the normal cellular number to a VOIP number and accessing them through 3G networks (Internet) across the world.

3G Network as the back-up (or) even primary Internet access method for SMB companies:

Certain Firewall/ UTM appliances, Routers, and other WAN termination devices come with built in slots to accommodate 3G Data Cards / USIM in order to provide automatic fail-over to 3G networks if the primary Internet link (ADSL – Wired broadband, Internet Leased Lines, etc), fails. There are certain situations when 3G network can be a good choice for primary Internet connectivity as well, especially for SMB companies. So, 3G network need not be restricted to roaming users / fail over scenarios alone.

Why not cool your heels and consider implementing  the faster Internet/ Intranet (VPN over 3G broadband) connectivity offered by 3G networks now, so that the efficiency and productivity of employees on the field can be improved and the organization can have uninterrupted Internet connectivity with fail-over options, in order to warm up for the ultimate and mind blowing speeds offered by the 4G/ LTE networks when they arrive!

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