At Novotech, we are fortunate enough to sell a great selection of cellular modules to our customers who use them to add cellular connectivity to their hardware as well as finished cellular modems that customers use to obtain reliable connectivity to the cellular internet networks.  For some customers, it is pretty cut and dry as to which is the best choice, but for some, both of them offer a lot of advantages.

So, which is best for you....

Look at using a cellular module when:

- You are building "a lot" of devices.  From a cost standpoint, it always makes sense to build your own device when you are passing over a certain volume threshold.  While there is no set rule, the ROI (return on investment) to using a module makes a lot of sense when you are doing over 5000-10000 units in a production run.

- You need "a lot" of control over the device.  For some, using a finished cellular modem may not make sense if you require the ability to control the connectivity in a way that is not possible when using a modem.  Having said that, modems are becoming much more flexible on the use of extra commands / loading applications on-board, so this point is starting to go away.

- You are "crunched" for space.  Modules offer a very compact way to add on cellular capabiity to your device, often being able to use some empty space on a board.  For many applications, the use of a modem simply is not possible due to space requirements.

- You are "technically savvy" and you want to show it.  For many companies who specialize in Engineering (or have a great engineering department), modules allow for the greatest amount of flexibility.  Since you are creating the device, you can use this advantage to create a product unlike anything else on the market.  When you use a finished cellular modem, you are often using hardware that allows your competitors to reduce this advantage.

- Time is on your side.  From start to finish, it can take up to 12-24 months to get a customized product to market.  

Look at using a cellular modem when:

- You want to focus on what you know.  For many companies (such as AVL/Fleet Management companies), their expertise resides in creating excellent software and in your ability to take it to market through sales. Why would you want to focus on something (such as building your own hardware) that isn't a strength for you?  Many companies do not want to have full-time staff dedicated to carrier certification and firmware updates on their payroll.
- You are deploying a lower to moderate amount of units.  There is a cost to developing and maintaining your own device (such as carrier/industry certifications, development, on-going support/firmware upgrades and more).  If you have a lot of units to spread these costs across, it makes more sense to undertake these items, but for many companies, they are better to let someone else do it.
- You need only "some" flexibility from your connection.  If you require basic connectivity (establishing an IP connection and re-establishing if it drops) and/or basic reporting (basic GPS functionality), you are going to get everything that you need from a finished modem.
- Space is not an issue.  Modems (and their cabling) can take up some space in your solution (whether it is inside your device or outside).  If you have the space, modems can allow for a quick deployment.
- You need to be flexible and nimble.  Changing a modem out when you want to add in a newer technology is easy......changing a module (or "re-spinning your board, as it is called) is not.
Regardless of whether you are thinking about using a module or a finished modem, let Novotech help you through the process.