What You Need to Know About Networking and Digital Signage

Jan 21, 2014

Why Integrate Digital Signage Through a Network?

Today, the vast majority of digital signs being deployed today are networked. The advantages of a networked digital signage system are far greater than simply the cost savings; such systems also add value by their ability to update content, nearly in real time, and increase its relevance to the viewing audience. The days of updating signs by flash drives and other manual, non-networked approaches have simply become a thing of the past.

Consumers want information quickly and easily, and it must come to them, such as between meetings and appointments. The need for data has expanded, and the way such information is presented reflects on a business and its brand. Digital signage adds an element of professionalism and is an effective medium for getting the word out on anything a business wants to convey. Digital signage is a valid part of a marketing plan, allows acceleration of the spread of information and can help companies gain product and brand mindshare.

Traditional IP-based Networks

A network enables digital displays to send and receive data to and from a central point of control, typically managed by the network operator or administrator. Most networks today, by and large, are Internet Protocol-based, or IP-based, networks — meaning that each display is given its own unique IP address and uses the Internet as its primary means of communication. Unfortunately, traditional IP networks such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi and satellite networks have limitations. Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks require infrastructure and tech support. Other problems include high cost, unpredictable maintenance fees and lack of convenience.

Cellular 3G and 4G networks Offer a Dramatic Game Changer

Cellular networks, also known as wireless broadband, data services or simply 3G/4G networks, have become more commonplace in the market over the past several years. Sprint is investing in a 4G cellularbroadband network via its WiMax network.

“4G networking will be a dramatic game-changer in the world of digital signage,” said Simon Wilson, CEO of Scotts Valley, Calif.-based MediaTile, a provider of cellular digital signage. “It’s got the horsepower that network operators need for their rich and relevant content, especially video, but with none of today’s wired and IT cost and hassle issues.”

Cellular broadband is rapidly changing the way digital signage networks are configured. Before deploying cellular signage, though, it may help to understand the available types of cellular broadband networks, as well as the terminology.

1G, 2G and 3G

Most cellular broadband networks operate on what is called third-generation, or 3G, cellular technology. First-generation technology, referred to as 1G, was based on analog cell service. Today, Sprint’s 3G and 4G network combines wireless voice and data services to provide a variety of applications to cell phone users, such as voice communication, Internet access and the ability to download and even stream video files. The data services component can be obtained separately as a stand-alone modem, or even on-board, so that digital signage media players have a built-in Internet access point.

“With Sprint Mobile Broadband, digital signage providers like MediaTile are able to send and receive information at broadband speeds on both our 3G and 4G networks. 3G services are available on our nationwide mobile broadband network,” said Wayne Ward, vice president M2M (Machine to Machine), of Reston, Va.-based Sprint Nextel.

To find out more, visit our digital signage resource page

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