I think we all like the latest and greatest, don't we?  Who wants to buy last year's iPad once the newest one comes out?  And, don't even get some people started on fashion....for some, they won't be caught dead wearing something from "last season".  So, one can definitely see the appeal for using LTE products for every application.  The speeds are breathtaking....for most people, it far exceeds the so-called "high-speed" connection that they have at their home!

So, LTE is perfect for M2M, right?  Only if you enjoy "driving your Ferrari through a school zone".  The expression, which I have used for a while, accurately describes what happens when you use such fast technology for most M2M applications.  Sure, a Ferrari is a wonderful piece of machinery, but it loses much of its appeal when you are only able to drive it at 20 mph (30 Km/hr).  If you were only ever able to drive at that speed, you might as well buy a reliable sedan and pocket the difference.

The same holds true for using LTE in most M2M applications.

Here are some reasons why you should consider using older technologies for your M2M solutions:

Save money with no performance loss
For most M2M applications, there is absolutely no speed advantage to using LTE. 
When you are sending "bits and bytes" of data, the difference between LTE and its slower network companions is often fractions of a second, at most.  Considering that most M2M solutions work in the background, there is never a chance that you will notice any speed differences.

You're often using slower technology anyways
Carriers have made some great strides to quickly deploy LTE technology in an amazing amount of time.  However, think about where they have spent most of the money for a second....most LTE devices are smartphones, so they are aiming this speed demon at places where these devices are most used.  Heavily populated urban areas are obviously the main target, and if you are in the middle of Times Square, you will no doubt get LTE speeds.  But many of the in-building services have yet to be upgraded, so you will fall back to slower legacy networks quite often.  As well, many fringe areas of major urban centers, as well as secondary markets will not be receiving LTE coverage for a while.  So, someone is putting a speed cap on your expensive Ferrari....

Network services and the best rate plans are not always available on LTE
This issue has been correcting itself at a pretty rapid rate, so it may not be much of an issue going forward.  However, many customers have found that they are not able to get the same "sweetheart" rate plans on LTE that they used to have on legacy technologies, and in some cases, certain services (like Static IP and Private APNs) are not easily available on the latest and greatest network.

Roaming and International deployments
Many deployments that take place overseas will not benefit from LTE.  Why?  Many parts of the world are barely through rolling out 2G, let alone 4G!  Your "rocket" device may never be able to achieve its top-speed.

So, should you never use LTE for M2M?  No, it does have its place, but you need to know what the gains are and when it is worth spending the extra money.

Here are three scenarios where M2M solutions may benefit from LTE:

1. Your application really is a bandwidth hog and you need that data now!
Applications do exist that fully utilize LTE's bandwidth in the M2M world, but they are few and far between.  Some of these applications may include backing up a key network or replacing a landline for some mobile office applications.  However, even in those scenarios, a device that offers HSPA+ is still going to offer speeds that meet or exceed the landline connection that they were replacing or backing up!  Why not save some money?

2. You are concerned about network longevity
Again, this can be a realistic concern, and can be a good reason to perhaps not deploy on some 2G networks.  However, technologies like HSPA have a long, long life ahead of them.  Chances are that you will want to take advantage of some of the features of a new device long before these networks are sunsetting.

3. You are concerned about network latency
Again, this was once a very realistic concern.  Legacy 2G networks suffered from considerable network latency times, and many applications (especially in the financial and security spaces) did not perform well.  However, while latencies on 3G networks are still not as good as their LTE counterpart, I have yet to see many applications that could not work well (with regards to latency) on 3G.

Bottom Line

LTE is a great technology and is a dramatic leap forward for the cellular industry.  Having recently moved from an iPhone 4S to a 5S, I am blown away by how much faster it is for doing things on a smartphone.  However, before you fork over extra cash to buy an LTE modem for an M2M application, be sure you know why you are spending $100 to $300 more.  Chances are, it is money that is not well spent, and in this age of companies trying to save money, the money is better spent elsewhere.

So, don't use a Ferrari when a Chevrolet will do!

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance. Stay connected! Follow Novotech on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) or follow me personally (@LBNovotechM2M).  We’re also very active on LinkedIn so follow our company page too.