The Role of Cellular Connectivity in the IoT Ecosystem According to Gartner, 8.4 billion connected “things” were in use in 2017, a surge of 31% from 2016.
Every business can benefit from IoT, be it industry, medicine, retail, finance or agriculture. However, no IoT device is complete without the right connectivity means. Compared to other communication solutions, cellular connectivity has few distinct advantages. IoT is a life-changing technology: today’s industries use IoT/M2M technology to increase revenues, improve efficiency, and streamline systems in different industries and all over the world. Connecting devices can, among other things, help businesses react faster to issues related to their services and sometimes even prevent them, create new business opportunities and increase productivity at all levels of an organization. M2M/IoT devices can be used for various use cases: from monitoring and controlling smart infrastructures, to detecting problems in manufacturing lines at an early stage and even improving crops and watering systems. The good news is that every business can benefit from IoT, be it industry, medicine, retail, finance or agriculture. The better news is that we’re at the very beginning: while most connected devices today are mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, the market is rapidly changing.
In only a few years IoT devices are expected to outnumber the mobile phones, tablets, and laptops total number and mark another milestone in a successful transformation. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology refers to the wide range of technologies that enable products, services or “things” (in the Internet of Things). Within this wide range, there are four main technologies: • Bluetooth- Bluetooth technology is an easy, wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances (up to a 100 meter). It’s used for medical purposes; fitness applications and various lifestyle use cases. Due to this solution’s low bandwidth connection, it’s mostly used to transfer data between small electronic devices.
Weak point: limited range (approximately 100 meters), can’t transfer large amounts of data.• WLAN- a wireless local area network (WLAN) is a computer network that links two or more devices using wireless communication within a limited area. WLAN is usually used in confined spaces such as a home, school or office building. Unlike Bluetooth Wireless Local Area Network technology has high bandwidth capabilities. Therefore, users can transfer large amounts of data, for files exchange, video or audio streaming purposes.
Weak point: very limited range (typically up to 32 meters from the access point/router), difficult to deploy.• Cellular- a cellular network or WAN (wide area network) enables global connectivity using radio waves. A device can connect to a cell tower based 16 kilometers away, or to cellular networks via satellite for remote areas access.
Roaming capabilities ensure that a cellular connected device maintains its network connectivity while on the go. Through a cellular roaming network, a device maintains its continuous coverage for data, voice, and SMS outside of the device’s home network, since it can hop between mobile network operators. Depending on the roaming agreement between two networks, additional charges may be incurred for voice services, SMS messages or megabyte of data used. Cellular connectivity has a higher power consumption than other methods, especially for continuous service, and is more suited for easily accessible devices, or devices that can be fitted with mobile battery packs.Weak point: narrower bandwidth than WLAN, high power consumption.• Satellite- Satellite augments coverage in areas where cellular coverage is unavailable or unreliable, for example, remote areas that lack terrestrial or fixed infrastructure. Weak point: higher operational costs in comparison to other solutions, bad in-building coverage.
Why Cellular Connectivity is the Right Solution for IoT DeploymentsAccording to an Ericsson Mobility Report, the number of IoT devices using cellular connectivity will reach 1.8 billion devices. In fact, according to a Machina research, by 2025 mobile networks are expected to carry 50% of IoT data traffic. This connectivity solution is favored by many IoT businesses for few reasons:• Global coverage- cellular devices can be deployed anywhere with network coverage, even across wide geographical areas. While in most networks, users are tied to a specific provider, EMnify offers a multi-operator SIM, which can operate in over 180 countries across 540 mobile networks, enabling users to seamlessly hop between different networks.• Easy deployment- cellular devices are very easy to deploy: they don’t require end-user provisioning like WiFi security setup.
Instead, they can be provisioned by a third party, such as system integrators, before being shipped to the customer. The EMnify infrastructure is auto-deployable and automatically provisioned, including network access, routing, VPN gateways, firewalls, and services.• High security- cellular networks are not only reliable and robust. They are also secure on the network level. In addition to the network’s own security means, EMnify uses a VPN and IPsec encryption that provide companies and users alike with a high level of data security. • Cost effective- cellular connectivity’s components costs are lower than they’ve ever been, allowing businesses to take a calculated risk and deploy on a larger scale. EMnify-powered devices draw from an elastic network, which finds the best connection for a device based on customer-defined pricing and service quality preferences.
Furthermore, the company offers a transparent, Pay-As-You-Go pricing model. Summary: in this blog post we’ve introduced different industries using M2M/IoT and reviewed several connectivity types. Among the solutions offered, we’ve concluded that cellular connectivity has few distinct advantages: price, security, deployment process, security, and coverage. Given its many advantages and endless potential, it’s easy to understand why this is most people’s (and ours) preferred deployment choice.