Always connected. That buzzword has been getting a lot of attention lately and rightfully so. The day is rapidly approaching when cellular “dead zones” and inaccessible internet will be a thing of the past. Just last month, T-Mobile and SpaceX announced the monumental news that the two companies are partnering to eliminate dead zones by deploying second-generation Starlink satellites that utilize T-Mobile’s mid-band 1.91 to 1.995GHz spectrum.
More recently, Apple announced that the upcoming iPhone 14 would feature Emergency SOS that will leverage satellite connectivity to send for help if you are stranded, injured, or in some other form of peril and you don’t have standard cell service. Huawei even jumped on the bandwagon and announced its own version of satellite-powered SOS phone features that debuted just a day before the Apple event. All these new forms of connectivity are geared towards providing emergency services in a time of need and aren’t intended to provide unlimited bandwidth for day-to-day phone use.
That said, the other end of the “spectrum” is also making strides and CTL just announced a major Chromebook update that could lead the way to a future that is truly always connected. LTE Chromebooks aren’t new and devices with mobile data aren’t exclusive to the ChromeOS ecosystem but CTL just launched a new line of rugged, LTE-enabled Chromebooks that take advantage of Band 48/CBRS LTE. This makes the CTL Chromebook NL72L series the first ChromeOS device, that I’m aware of, that utilizes this LTE band that exists in the 3.55-3.7GHz spectrum here in the U.S.
The list of Band 48-capable devices is short but it is growing. Along with many recent smartphones, you’ll find a few rugged Windows PCs designed for use by field workers, some iPads, and a handful of premium enterprise laptops such as the HP Elite Dragonfly Max. The CTL Chromebook NL72L and NL72CT-L will be the first Chromebooks to grace this list and that’s a very big deal. But what is Band 48 and why does it matter?
Band 48/CBRS, also known as Citizen Broadband Radio Service, is the LTE spectrum covering the range of 3550 – 3700 MHz in the United States. Band 48 is capable of carrying large amounts of data and supporting a large number of devices. This spectrum doesn’t do well over long distances and can’t penetrate buildings or terrain very well. Because this spectrum of LTE isn’t owned by any one specific carrier, it can be used to deploy private and public networks for a wide range of applications. That means that businesses, schools, and other organizations can deploy a CBRS network to cover a given area and Band 48-capable devices can leverage the large amount of bandwidth available from this network. To dumb it down, it’s like a mobile hotspot on steroids.
Benefits of CBRS and Band 48
- Improved Security. Network with dedicated radio equipment. Band 48 CBRS keeps data local.
- Enhanced Mobility and Range. Unlike WiFi, this technology allows high-speed mobility, seamless handovers, and longer signal ranges.
- Capacity. Band 48 has enough capacity to allow high data rate applications and a large number of devices at the same time.
- Optimized Services. Applications can be customized and improved regarding the specific industry, for services such as QoS, bandwidth, latency, etc.
- Interoperability. Devices are capable of communicating with each other no matter their manufacturer.
- New Wireless Devices. New wireless technology, such as AGV helmets, security cameras, agricultural sensors, etc.
CTL, ahead of the curve
Mainstream Chromebook manufacturers have been slow to adopt LTE for ChromeOS devices but Oregon-based CTL understands the need and the benefits of the CBRS spectrum as it pertains to enterprise customers. As the number of remote and on-the-go employees continues to grow, the ability to deploy private, dependable, high-bandwidth networks has become crucial but those networks are useless without a fleet of devices to use them. CTL CEO Erik Stromquist understands that.
Digital equity and inclusion is a priority for CTL and we believe by adding additional communication technologies to our products, we are one step closer to solving the digital divide. Band 48 has been requested by our most innovative customers, and are excited to address this need in the market.Erik Stromquist, CEO
In response to the high demand for Band 40-capable devices, CTL has announced the launch of the CTL Chromebook NL72L series which is CBRS-ready out of the box. The 11.6″ IP41-rated Chromebook is powered by the latest Intel Jasper Lake processors and is available with an optional touch screen that should prove very useful for workers in the field. In addition to Band 48 LTE capabilities, the CTL Chromebook NS72L features Wi-Fi 6 for lightning-fast download speeds when connected to high-speed internet services.
With CTL’s NL72CT-LTE B48-ready Cat 12 Chromebook, you are more connected than ever. Ships LTE ready! (Unlocked) Including the new private Band 48 CBRS. Providing unparalleled connectivity outdoors or indoors. For band 48, just input your APN and you’re ready to go! (E-sim supported)CTL
Both models of the Chromebook NL72L are available for pre-order and shipping is expected to begin in November of this year. Both are also discounted at the moment. You can pre-order the touch model for $399 and the non-touch version for $369. Both Chromebooks are eligible for ZTE(zero-touch enrollment) and CTL offers free 2-way RMA shipping for eligible Workspace customers. You can find both devices at the link below.