Dual Wi-Fi Cellular Routers: Use Cases Explained
A standard cellular router includes one Wi-Fi radio that handles all Wi-Fi network traffic. Some of the newest Digi cellular routers — Digi WR54 and Digi WR64 — contain two Wi-Fi radios to better handle bandwidth and some important use cases. These include scenarios in which you don’t want all of your traffic routed over the same network — whether for bandwidth or security reasons, or both. In this blog post we will cover these scenarios and why we built in this important feature.
Benefits of Dual Wi-Fi Cellular Routers
Let’s talk about the ways in which dual Wi-Fi can dramatically improve outcomes for businesses and municipalities.
- Increased Capacity: Each Wi-Fi radio on the Digi WR54 and Digi WR64 series routers can support up to four virtual access points (SSIDs) with 64 clients each. So each Wi-Fi radio in total can support up to 256 clients. In dense environments with many clients, like in a train, popup store, or public venue, this may not be sufficient. Customers may not be able to connect to the Wi-Fi network, or may get kicked off the Wi-Fi network, resulting in a poor user experience. Two Wi-Fi radios can handle twice as many clients, up to a total number 512 clients and provide the extra capacity needed to keep your customers happy.
- Increased Bandwidth: In a typical Wi-Fi router with a single Wi-Fi radio using a single Wi-Fi channel, devices or users are competing for bandwidth. Two Wi-Fi radios can also provide double the Wi-Fi bandwidth to your devices or users.
- Reduced Congestion: Two separate Wi-Fi radios can operate on independent Wi-Fi radio channels, resulting in less congestion and better performance.
Some business applications require traffic segmentation to isolate different types of Wi-Fi traffic from each other to better manage security. You don’t want bad actors to be able to access your shop infrastructure from your guest Wi-Fi network.
Digi dual-Wi-Fi cellular routers allow you to segment traffic at the radio level (lowest level), to prevent different types of Wi-Fi traffic from impacting each other.
Another benefit of Digi dual Wi-Fi cellular routers is prioritizing traffic on one Wi-Fi radio over the other, ensuring that your critical business infrastructure gets priority over other non-essential services like guest Wi-Fi.
For optimal Wi-Fi performance, it is important to look at antenna placement: where does it need to go to achieve best coverage?
In a typical Wi-Fi router with a single Wi-Fi radio, the antennas are either directly attached to the router, or if they are remote, a single Wi-Fi radio can only service one area.
Digi dual-Wi-Fi cellular routers allow you to place the antennas where you need Wi-Fi service.
This benefit may be counter-intuitive, but if your application requires one of the above methods, a Wi-Fi router like the Digi WR54 or Digi WR64 with two Wi-Fi radios is much more cost effective to purchase, install and operate compared to two separate devices.
Use cases for Dual Wi-Fi Cellular Routers
Let’s look at a few examples where dual Wi-Fi is used today.
Retail Stores, Restaurants and Coffee Shops
In a retail store, restaurant or cafe, you can use one Wi-Fi radio for public traffic, for example providing your customers with guest Wi-Fi. And you can use the second Wi-Fi radio for private traffic such as your ordering system, credit card readers, printers, cash register, and connectivity to your back-end server. You can segment traffic, and you can place one set of antennas near your customers and another set near the infrastructure that runs your business.
Similarly, if you are deploying the Digi WR54 and Digi WR64 in a bus or a train, you can have one Wi-Fi radio dedicated to passenger Wi-Fi, and the other Wi-Fi radio to connect your security cameras, payment terminal, and CAD/AVL system on a separate radio.
Depot Offloading: Internal/External Antennas:
A city bus typically offers passenger Wi-Fi, and has a completely different set of needs for the bus telemetry, such as bus-to-terminal communications.
For example, at the end of the day the bus needs to offload bus telemetry and security camera footage to a Wi-Fi access point in the depot. If you just use the router’s internal antenna, you won’t have the most ideal performance. And if you only use an external antenna, your passengers may not have a great Wi-Fi experience. If you have both internal and external antennas, this combined method will provide both use cases with the best performance.
On the Digi WR64 we have taken this one step further, by integrating an even faster 4×4 MIMO Wi-Fi radio, reducing the time it takes to offload data at the depot by a factor of 2-4x.
Business Continuity using Wi-Fi as WAN and Cellular
Digi dual-Wi-Fi cellular routers allow you to configure one Wi-Fi radio as Wi-Fi as WAN, to provide an uplink connection to an available Wi-Fi network, for example in a shopping mall. In this scenario, Wi-Fi acts as the primary WAN connection, with cellular as a backup. When the Wi-Fi connection goes down, cellular takes seamlessly over and provides business continuity. The second Wi-Fi radio is typically configured as a Wi-Fi access point to provide a secure Wi-Fi network independent from the Wi-Fi network in the shopping mall.
Wi-Fi Connectivity in Train Cars
Today’s public transportation passengers expect Wi-Fi to be available in each train car. However, this can be an expensive installation, if each train car requires an independent cellular data plan. With Digi dual Wi-Fi cellular routers, you can create a bridge from one train car to the next one over Wi-Fi, providing Wi-Fi service in all train cars. One train car (e.g. head car) can have a cellular uplink. The rest — up to 10 cars — can be daisy chained up to 10 cars. Fewer data plans.
The following video shares some of the additional use cases for Digi WR54 and WR64 cellular routers.