If you haven’t figured out these four items before launch date, then trouble already is brewing and money surely is being wasted.
An IoT implementation might require a complex web of vendors and technologies to deliver and manage connectivity services as a key part of achieving a successful launch. For instance, connectivity providers, endpoint makers, gateway providers, vendors of IoT platform software, other software vendors, providers of data center capacity and management tools all need to come together to deliver an IoT service.
This paper will look at some of the basic needs for an IoT deployment, specifically focusing on the needed technology, the required coverage, a comprehensive level of support, as well as connectivity management so you know where money is being spent. Understanding these basic requirements before deployment calms the fears of those stepping into this new technological paradigm.
The Ultimate Goal
Your business has decided to power growth through the Internet of Things. But investing and planning new, large-scale projects can be overwhelming. Most businesses have expectations, mostly monetary, but are unsure of the steps to take to initiate such a deployment. Choosing the right partner, with expertise
and experience, can make or break initial projects.
Think of one platform to manage multiple technologies, with additional capabilities to identify problems faster, resolve issues quicker, and control costs at every stage of IoT device usage. You need a platform that provides complete control over your IoT / M2M programs through the entire device lifecycle―one that allows real-time visibility into device performance and traffic patterns, as well as a solution that enables cost controls through flexible alerts and alarms. These capabilities result in greater operational efficiencies, higher levels of automation, and ultimately, a much lower TCO.
Here are a few critical items to consider before the start of any IoT deployment.
Key to any IoT initiative is the need to understand the connectivity technologies available, as well as the best fit for your specific business needs. There are multiple options, depending on location, need, costs, etc. These include cellular connectivity from 2G* all the way up to soon-to-be delivered 5G. Technologies available include both proprietary and non-proprietary, each with strengths and weaknesses, each with differing functionality and price.
So, do you need a long-range wireless data transport capability that provides extensive coverage, is easy to configure/install, and is cost efficient? Cellular connectivity probably is the solution you seek. Why cellular? Two things. Cellular provides extensive coverage and is quick and easy to install without worrying about configuring either local ISPs or a Wi-Fi system or a firewall.
Basically, connectivity protocols can be broken into two overarching categories: standardized and proprietary. The differences between standardized (licensed) and proprietary (unlicensed) technologies are fairly basic. Standardized IoT connectivity runs in a managed spectrum, with existing cellular standards. Unlicensed, or proprietary technologies, run in an unmanaged spectrum. Examples such as SigFox, Ingenu, and LoRaWAN are intriguing innovations, but these networks only exist in a few cities. Unless you are developing a geographically constrained product, these networks likely won’t work for your solution.
For this paper, we will focus on the more widely used cellular protocols within the licensed group.
* 2G in some parts of the world still is available, sunsetting in 5-10 years. If your global product life cycle requires that you maintain service for at least 10 years, then 2G might not be a good choice.
LTE-M or NB-IoT:
Basic Questions Answered
Do not need real-time data?
NB-IoT will work perfectly well
Need voice for your IoT application?
LTE-M is the right choice
Longer battery life is essential?
NB-IoT and LTE-M both provide longer battery life than LTE
Need some real-time communication?
LTE-M has lower latency, higher throughput
Lowest cost radio for large scale?
NB-IoT and LTE-M have much lower module costs than LTE
Application is physically mobile?
LTE-M has mobility management support
LTE-M and NB-IoT: Leading the Way
Whether you pick a particular technology that is going to be used here in the United States or North America or perhaps over in Europe or in the Far East or Africa, you have choices to make due to the availability of technology, coverage areas, and overall costs. If you’re in the U.S., most likely you’re going to want to pick a family of 4G technologies, whether it’s LTE technologies that are in existence and deployed today, which are in the relatively high end for many applications, or some of the up-and-coming newer lower power, wide area (LPWA) network technologies, like LTE-M and NB-IoT. The idea is that you have options. You have to decide which is the best technology for you based on the criteria of your application requirements. Here are some insights to the newer protocols available.
LTE-M is a bi-directional, standards-based protocol within a dedicated spectrum. It provides carrier-grade security, long battery life, low data needs, and low-cost modules. One of the strengths of LTE-M is that it does not need a new infrastructure as it can piggyback on existing LTE networks. What that means is that a carrier can update software on its network, get LTE-M functional, and not spend any additional funds on infrastructure or support services.
Additionally, data collection devices can transmit data on a non-continuous schedule, as set by the end user. The device, when not sending data is not off, but just asleep. When data is scheduled to be sent, the device does not need to be re-activated to join the network, it just wakes up. Having intermittent data send-schedules, which are not active 24x7, can save battery life, leading to significant
NB-IoT is a standards-based LPWA IoT technology. It has a global reach with better bi-directional data than any of its unlicensed counterparts. And, unlike LTE-M, NB-IoT is based on Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) modulation, which ‘widens’ the signal so as to reduce interference. It also might make it a bit harder to go national (since it can’t yet hook into the LTE network). NB-IoT is supported by all major mobile equipment manufacturers and can work with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks, so it enjoys the heightened security of mobile networks, including user ID, authentication, data integrity, and more.
The NB-IoT LPWA solution is optimized for applications that need to communicate small amounts of data over long periods of time. Because of its point-to-point topology, NB-IoT results in lower latency with a higher transmit power limit (200 kHz bandwidth), which improves range and reliability, even underground or inside buildings. And since it operates in a licensed spectrum, it is secure with highly reliable data transmission, assuring a high quality of service. With its simpler underlying technology, costs for NB-IoT modules will continue to decrease as demand increases.