Top 5 things that are hurting your IoT cell signal ​


Hello and thanks for reading (or watching).


So, you’ve gone ahead and deployed an IoT solution that uses cellular connectivity…, it is important that you are set up in a way that ensures you are always connected.


The first step is ensuring that you have a strong cellular signal, both from a connection standpoint, as well as from a speed standpoint (as speed can fall dramatically as your signal strength decreases).


Here are 5 things that will affect your signal strength, some of which you have control over and some that you do not….


  1. The “remoteness” of your application

Ideally, all IoT deployments would be done with 5 bars of cell coverage, but one of the powers of IoT is to work in areas that aren’t always traditionally covered well by landlines, so this can often mean some remote applications, such as a mining site or at a national park.  Since cell towers are usually built to handle smartphone type traffic (which there is less of it in most remote areas), coverage can be weaker when you leave major urban areas.


2) The amount of “beautiful things” in the way

Many people appreciate things in nature like rolling hills, rivers and lakes.  However, your IoT device does not share your affinity for these things.  Challenging topology means that not only are there are lot of things blocking your “view” of the cell tower, it is often very challenging to put cell towers in the area in the first place.  This helps to add to the remoteness level of the first point.


3) Windows, Floors and Doors

Cell towers are designed to maximize outdoor coverage.  This is why cell coverage tends to get better when you step outside of a building, as the signal does not have to fight its way through any obstacles.  Materials like wood and drywall can have some effect on your signal strength, but the real culprits are concrete and metal.

4) Every aspect of using a phone in a car

In some ways, it is amazing that cellular signal ever works reliably in a moving car.  First, the concept of moving at highway speeds means that you are constantly changing between cell towers without reducing your signal strength and speed.  However, cars by their nature are not friends to cellular signal.  They have a lot of metal (see point 3) and although they have glass in most directions, it tends to be tinted and most people have their phone below the “glass line” of their car anyways, making it less useful in the first place

5) Mother Nature

Trees are beautiful to look at, as can be the rain.  However, Mother Nature is not a friend to the cellular signal of your solution.  Heavy vegetation, along with changes in the atmospheric pressure can have effects on your signal strength at various times of the year.

In a future blog, we will show the Top 5 ways you can combat these obstacles to increase your
changes of IoT success!

IoT Made Simple: Cellular Modem Basics

Hello and thanks for reading.

As a company who has sold IoT products long before we knew of the term “IoT”, it comes as second nature to the team at Novotech.  However, many of our channel partners and most of our customers are still relatively new to IoT….what it is, what it can do and how it can change your business.  As such, we decided to come out with our new education series, “IoT Made Simple


In this series, we look at some of the common IoT hardware/software products, some of the key applications/markets and most importantly, how it can help your organization.


This week, we look at Cellular modems.


To simplify, we have divided modem deployments into 4 types:

Mobile (where modems are deployed in vehicles and into mobile offices)

Temporary (where modems are used to provide communications for temporary applications)

Permanent  (where modems are used as a permanent method of Internet access”

Backup (where modems are used to back up an existing landline connection)


Mobile is kind of like it sounds….it usually provides high-speed connectivity (often combined with GPS location data) for a remote team.  This can include things such as Police cars, transit buses or trains.


Temporary applications are ones that are there and they are not!  This may be a very quick one (like a Pop-up store) or a bit longer (like construction of a home).  The idea is that the connectivity is quick to set up and is there as long as it is needed.


Permanent is designed to provide always-on connectivity using cellular modems, often in place of traditional landline connections.  It may be because the cellular connection was more cost effective, quicker to set up, flexible in placement or maybe it is just the preferred method.  The application list is wide here….ranging from communication for a machine to an environmental site to an office at a national park.


Backup is an application that has exploded with the growth of Internet based services like Point of Sale and E-Commerce and it involves using a cellular modem as a failover in the event that a main line is not available.  Just about any business can use this….retail, government, finance, Data centres and much more.


So, what are the business gains to using a cellular modem:

The actual gains for your business can be as unique as your business is, but here are some common ones:

  • Lower cost, more flexible and quicker installations
  • More Flexible rate plans
  • Can be used in a mobile or rugged environment
  • Allows for a single setup across a region, country or even the world
  • Allows you to manage all devices on a single screen

Hope you found this useful….watch for more “IoT made simple” posts soon!

Important information on NEW Tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration

On May 29th, the White House announced the renewal of plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Just last week, the Section 301 tariffs were tabled while the countries negotiated. This link provides a comprehensive list of the affected products

The Trump Administration announced that the final tariff list will be published June 15th, and “tariffs will be imposed on those imports July 6th 2018.” All GPS products that Novotech sells are affected by this tariff. We have product in stock at our US facilities but this product will run out and Novotech will have no choice but to charge the tariff.

If you order GPS from Novotech it is possible that you will have to take additional steps at the border in order to effect payment to the "U S Customs and Border Protection”  

Below is specific information on payment of Sec 301 “Unfair Trade Practice” duties on imports from China.
On April 3, 2018, President Trump announced his intention to issue “special duties” under Section 301 of the trade act of 1974, for importation of certain articles of Chinese origin.  On June 15th, the USTR released a final list of 818 effected tariff numbers for which the “special duties” will become effective on July 6th. An addition group of 284 tariff numbers was also released, but must undergo further review. Section 301 of the Trade Act allows the imposition of “special duties” in cases where countries engage in unfair trade practices with regards to importations of U.S. origin goods and materials. Duty rates for the affected goods will be 25% and are in addition to any currently applicable duties, taxes or fees.
The effected and proposed tariffs may be review via the links noted below:
Effective July 6, 2018
Proposed tariffs under review

We regret the inconvenience, but strongly recommend that you maintain records on the Tariffs and look for the drawbacks that may be available upon export of your products.