Always connected. This buzzword has been getting a lot of attention lately and rightly so. The day is fast approaching when cellular “dead zones” and inaccessible internet will be a thing of the past. Last month, T-Mobile and SpaceX announced the monumental news that the two companies are teaming up to eliminate dead zones by deploying second-generation Starlink satellites that use the mid-band spectrum of 1.91 to 1.995 GHz from T-Mobile.
More recently, Apple announced that the the next iPhone 14 would feature an emergency SOS which will take advantage of satellite connectivity to send help if you are stranded, injured or in some other form of peril and 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 of these new forms of connectivity are intended to provide emergency services when needed and are not intended to provide unlimited bandwidth for everyday phone use.
That said, the other end of the “spectrum” is also progressing, and CTL has just announced a major Chromebook update that could pave the way for a truly always-connected future. LTE Chromebooks aren’t new, and devices with mobile data aren’t exclusive to the ChromeOS ecosystem, but CTL has 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, to my knowledge, that uses this LTE band which exists in the 3.55-3.7 GHz spectrum here in the US.
The list of 48-band compatible devices is short but growing. Along with plenty of recent smartphones, you’ll find a few rugged Windows PCs designed for use by field workers, some iPads, and a handful of high-end business laptops such as the HP Elite Dragonfly Max. The CTL NL72L and NL72CT-L Chromebooks will be the first Chromebooks on this list and that’s very important. But what is Band 48 and why is it important?
Band 48/CBRS, also known as Citizen Broadband Radio Service, is LTE spectrum covering the 3550-3700 MHz range in the United States. Band 48 is capable of carrying large amounts of data and supporting a large number of devices. This spectrum does not work well over long distances and cannot penetrate buildings or terrain very well. Since this LTE spectrum is not owned by any specific operator, it can be used to deploy private and public networks for a wide range of applications. This means that businesses, schools, and other organizations can deploy a CBRS network to cover a given area, and Band 48 capable devices can take advantage of the large amount of bandwidth available from this network. In short, it’s like a mobile hotspot on steroids.
Benefits of CBRS and Band 48
- Improved security. Network with dedicated radio equipment. Band 48 CBRS retains local data.
- Improved mobility and range. Unlike Wi-Fi, this technology enables high-speed mobility, seamless transfers, and longer signal ranges.
- Ability. Band 48 has enough capacity to allow high throughput applications and a large number of devices at the same time.
- Optimized services. Applications can be customized and enhanced based on the specific industry, for services such as QoS, bandwidth, latency, etc.
- Interoperability. The devices are able to communicate with each other, regardless of their manufacturer.
- New wireless devices. New wireless technology, such as AGV helmets, security cameras, agricultural sensors, etc.
CTL, ahead of the curve
Consumer Chromebook makers have been slow to adopt LTE for ChromeOS devices, but Oregon-based CTL understands the need and benefits of CBRS spectrum for enterprise customers. As the number of remote and traveling employees continues to grow, the ability to deploy private, reliable, high-bandwidth networks has become crucial, but these networks are useless without a fleet of devices to use them. CTL CEO Erik Stromquist understands this.
Digital equity and inclusion is a priority for CTL and we believe that by adding additional communication technologies to our products, we are one step closer to closing the digital divide. Band 48 has been requested by our most innovative customers and we are delighted to meet this need in the market.
Erik Stromquist, CEO
In response to the high demand for Band 40 compatible devices, CTL has announced the launch of the CBRS-ready CTL Chromebook NL72L series. The 11.6″ IP41 Chromebook is powered by the latest Intel Jasper Lake processors and is available with an optional touchscreen which 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 super-fast download speeds when connected to high-speed internet services.
With CTL’s NL72CT-LTE B48 compatible Cat 12 Chromebook, you’re more connected than ever. LTE is ready! (Unlocked) Including the new Private Band 48 CBRS. Provide unparalleled connectivity outdoors or indoors. For Band 48, just enter your APN and you’re good to go! (E-sim supported)
Both NL72L Chromebook models are available for pre-order and shipping is expected to begin in November 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 (contactless registration) and CTL offers free two-way RMA shipping for eligible Workspace customers. You can find both devices at the link below.