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More Than Just Speed: The Key Factors Determining Your 5G Router's Performance

5g, First Responders, Public Safety, Innovation, AirLink, Utilities, Routers

David Manuel

David Manuel

Senior Product Manager, AirLink Networking Solutions

Thinking of upgrading to a 5G router? You may be drawn to the promise of unprecedented speeds — with the theoretical peak speed reaching up to 5 gigabits per second. That's around 50 times faster than your trusty old 4G. Imagine what you could do with that kind of speed — from real-time video streaming to immersive augmented reality experiences. 
However, the performance of a 5G router isn't solely defined by its speed. In reality, it's a complex web of hardware and software components working together that determines its performance. And speed, while important, is just one piece of this intricate puzzle. 



We often hear about 5G router peak download speeds, but the performance of a 5G router is only as good as its weakest link. So, when investing in a 5G router, consider the all-round performance of the solution.  
Peak throughput gives you information on the maximum data transfer rate you can achieve under ideal conditions, which are rarely met in real-world scenarios. To assess the real-word performance of your 5G router, you should also look at firewall and VPN throughputs. These datapoints will provide you with a more realistic measure of the router's performance as they account for the additional data processing involved in securing your connections. Firewalls protect your network from unauthorized access, while VPNs encrypt your internet traffic for secure remote access. If these features cannot keep up with your bandwidth requirements, your overall performance will suffer. 

Wi-Fi performance can also be critical in scenarios like depot offload where multiple vehicles offload video at a central location. Imagine a law enforcement agency, or a transit company, that has just invested in a new 5G router with impressive peak throughput to support their newly acquired cameras. At the end of each shift, officers must return to the depot to upload their video footage via Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi performance becomes as important as the 5G performance itself. After all, no officer wants to spend extra time waiting for their footage to upload. A 5G router equipped with high-performance MU-MIMO Wi-Fi 6 would be the perfect fit for such a scenario. 
Learn more: How MU-MIMO Wi-Fi 6 Enhances Connectivity for Public Safety, Transit and Industry. 

Similarly, Ethernet performance can be key when connecting critical devices and applications, such as video surveillance cameras, through Ethernet. A low-performance Ethernet connection can become a bottleneck and hinder the overall performance of the 5G router. 

Some routers, like the AirLink XR Series, also leverage data path acceleration to take full advantage of 5G's high speeds across Wi-Fi 6 and multi-gigabit ethernet interfaces. This means less work for the CPU, freeing it up for tasks like edge computing, and further improving the overall performance. 



The performance of your 5G router can be highly influenced by your antenna selection. The antennas you choose must match the MIMO configuration of your router and support the full cellular frequency range. For instance, a 4x4 MIMO 5G router must be connected to four compatible 5G cellular antennas. 
With the advent of 5G, the cost-saving strategy of deploying a 2x2 antenna, a common practice with 4G, is no longer viable.  This is because carriers may change which bands are supported in a region which can impact the router’s performance and prevent it from working on specific bands. 




The performance of a 5G router isn't confined solely to its hardware features; the software and management capabilities play an equally significant and often overlooked role. 
You could have blazing-fast 5G and Wi-Fi 6 links but would that matter if your solution cannot smoothly and intelligently switch between these links? 
That's where robust router software and management system come into play. High-performance router solutions allow for intelligent failover and traffic steering towards the optimal Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN). And here again measuring performance in this area is highly dependent on your use case. You should base your network switching decisions on criteria pertinent to your unique application. 

Take for instance, Semtech’s patented Cognitive Wireless technology. It allows you to set detailed rules to direct or split traffic between networks depending on a set of customizable criteria: the type of data you are transmitting, changes in the network or even where the routers are. For example, you can configure your XR60 router to smoothly transition from your Wi-Fi depot network to the cellular network as soon as your vehicle is leaving the depot. This way, you avoid waiting until your signal has weakened before switching networks. 
It is the remote management platform, AirLink Management Service (ALMS), that gives you complete control over your data’s journey through remote configuration and management of your routers and routing policies. And it's the software that empowers the router to make these critical decisions quickly, ensuring that data traffic is directed through the most efficient route at any given point in time, thereby minimizing any potential disruption to the user experience. 

The remote management platform is also critical to keep your routers running securely and at their peak performance. It allows you to easily access and deploy the latest firmware and security updates to your entire fleet of routers with just a few clicks. 



Introducing the new AirLink® XR60 – The All-Round Performer 5G Router 

The new AirLink® XR60 rugged 5G router excels in all-round performance, taking your broadband experience to a whole new level. With a 4x4 MIMO 5G radio, 2X2 MIMO Wi-Fi 6 and 5 Gbps Ethernet and USB-C connectivity, the XR60 delivers high performance across all its LAN and WAN links, ensuring no bottlenecks in your data transfer. 

As a new-gen solution, the XR60 also leverages Semtech’s patented Cognitive Wireless technology and provides you with fine-grained control of when and how your data traverses the network, ensuring optimal performance tailored to your specific application. 

And to ensure maximum performance, you can rely on Semtech’ extensive portfolio of antennas tested and certified to provide guaranteed performance with the XR60. The XR60 also comes with AirLink Complete, a comprehensive service package that provides you with the tools and support necessary to secure, optimize, and scale your router deployments effortlessly. 

Learn more about the AirLink XR60, the World’s Smallest Rugged 5G Router.


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