7 Non-cellular Connection Technologies Webinar

Larry Bellehumeur, our resident IoT expert has created a guide to help those who wonder if they are choosing the right network options. You can find part one on how to choose the right modem or gateway here: https://novotech.com/M2M-Blog/webinar

You can watch, listen, read or view the webinar below: 

Listen to the Podcast: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7arpf-a9d306 
View the Powerpoint: Picking Your Network Part 2
Watch the full webinar on Youtube: www.youtube.com/novotechwebinar
Or fast skip ahead to the parts relevant to your business: 

Wi-Fi - 02:45
Ethernet - 06:18
Bluetooth - 08:50
SigFox - 10:51
LoRa networks - 12:41
Satellite - 14:50
Private Networks - 17:25

Read the webinar below: 

In this webinar, we cover 7 non-cellular choices to connect your IoT devices (Ethernet, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, SigFox, LoRa, Satellite and Private networks), cover some of the pros and cons for each and discuss ideal applications

1 - Title Slide (00:10)

  • Welcome to this webinar, I'm Larry Bellehumeur
  • In this one, we are doing part two of our guide to helping you choose the best network to connect your IoT devices to. This one covers the non-cellular options, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, two newer wireless entrants (SigFox and LoRa) and two choices that are commonly used in Industrial and remote applications, Satellite and Private Radio.
  • Without further delay, on to the webinar.

 

2 - About Presenter (00:39)

  • To get started, here is a bit about me ... I have been in the field of what is now called IoT for about 20 years, working in a variety of areas that has given me a unique level of exposure to assist people in their IoT journey.
  • If I may, I encourage you to check out our weekly IoT Podcast, “the Internet of Things Made Simple”, and you can check out hundreds of IoT-focused blogs at 
  • Novotech.com/blog.

3 - About Novotech (01:06)

  • I don’t want to make this too much of a Sales pitch, but I will say that Novotech has also been in the IoT space for about 20 years and is in a good place to help you with any aspect of your IoT journey
  • Now, without further delay, here is Part Two to your guide to picking the best IoT network for your application.

4 - Your Seven choices (01:25)

  • Now, as if it wasn't confusing enough, we are adding another 7 choices to being able to connect your IoT device, in addition to the 7 cellular options that we covered in Part One.
  • A few important things to remember ...
  • First, you are not locked into a choice for any product or if you introduce a variation of your product. Some people may opt, as an example, to connect a consumer grade offering to a smartphone via Bluetooth, while another version may be connected via Wi-Fi that is intended for businesses. Finally, if you decide that your industrial version may not always have Wi-Fi available at a site, you can opt to choose one of the cellular options
  • Most IoT platforms will have no issue receiving the data from multiple methods, giving you the flexibility that you need.
  • As well, many manufacturers have products, either cellular routers or modules, that allow you to easily change out to another technology if your needs change.
  • Finally, while we have listed a number of applications (both in Part One and here in Part two) where a certain technology may be ideal, these are not the only applications it may be good for.In some of these applications, as many as 10-12 choices may work, so you can often stick with your preferred method for many deployments.

 

5 - Wi-Fi (02:45)

  • Over the past few years, Wi-Fi has emerged as the most common way that most people access the Internet while at work, and especially while at home.It gained incredible acceptance as it allowed us to work more freely, such as when many sit in front of the TV with their iPads.
  • The emergence of Wi-Fi has not been without its issues ... early networks were not all that fast, networks often became congested and security was always a concern.However, most of those things have been overcome, and Wi-Fi shows no sign of slowing down.
  • In the world of IoT, Wi-Fi has two distinct roles. First, it connects many devices that are intended to be used in the home, ranging from smart appliances to smart plugs to your Ring Door Bell.Second, many gateways have on-board Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity to allow for people to connect.This may include passengers on a bus or an EMS attendant now being able to gather information at the patient’s side away from the ambulance.
  • The first major advantage to Wi-Fi is its widespread availability in most homes and businesses.This allows for devices to be assured that connectivity is available in most locations.
  • Next, Wi-Fi modules are very low cost, allowing for Wi-Fi to be added to many lower cost devices.As well, since most Wi-Fi is back-hauled on high bandwidth networks, data usage is often free (or close to it), making it an ideal way to send large files, such as video feeds from cameras.
  • Its final advantage is that it is easy to connect, as most people have an understanding how to connect a new device onto their network ... or, in the case of my parents, they can just ask me!
  • On the negative side, Wi-Fi has a major drawback in IoT, and it is not for the user, but for the manufacturer.In the case of some wearables, the user sees sending information up to the cloud as a major benefit, so they will be sure to keep the device connected.However, if the data being sent from the device is meant for the manufacturer, such as usage data, most users will not see the need to connect the device, meaning that it will constantly be left unconnected.For this reason, expect many manufacturers to look at low-cost cellular options like CAT-M going forward.
  • The second negative is the lack of Wi-Fi coverage for temporary events or location.This is being solved more and more as companies are using Wi-Fi enabled cellular gateways, but this does mean that Wi-Fi is not ideal for unknown locations.
  • In terms of applications, the first one that jumps out for Wi-Fi is any smart home device.There is a lot of talk that cellular devices could be used, but I still think Wi-Fi will dominate here for a long time.
  • Fixed large office equipment ... think large printers/scanners and HVAC units make a lot of sense to connect via Wi-Fi, as they both are not moved often, and the user will see value in keeping the device connected.
  • It will be interesting to see how many tablet manufacturers adopt 5G as the key way to access the Internet.Some tablets, like iPads, do have an option for cellular connectivity, but most iPad users will still access the Internet using Wi-Fi for the time being.
  • Finally, many smart health devices will use Wi-Fi. It may be in a dual radio deployment (such as in the watch that has both embedded cellular and Wi-Fi) or it may be a smart scale that only uses Wi-Fi. Again, time will tell how much emerging cellular technologies like CAT-M have an impact here.

 

6 – Ethernet (06:18)

  • I have to admit ... I have not totally ditched the cable.I still use Ethernet for my main computer. Yes, I do run a Wi-Fi network in the house, but I do a lot of real-time video conferencing and as good as Wi-Fi has become, the latency is still much better when wired.
  • Ethernet is far from dead, especially in the world of IoT. Millions of devices connect to cellular gateways via Ethernet ports, so as a technology, it is going strong.However, as a primary method of connecting your device to the Internet, it is becoming less and less common.
  • As mentioned, it is still the method which offers the lowest latency to connect to the Internet, making a hardwire into your router the ideal method of connecting for fixed applications like routers, medical machines and more.
  • Part of its appeal is the both a pro and a con, as you will see. On the Pro side, many people feel comfortable with a physical connection between devices.Maybe they played that telephone game with cans and string as kids too much, but many people still prefer it over wireless connections.
  • Finally, as much as there are ways to secure Wi-Fi networks, most security experts like the idea of a hardwired connections.This is the case for most servers and high value devices.
  • As mentioned, the wire is both a pro and a con.On the con side, wires can be cut, whether it is accidental or on purpose.Ethernet cables can be made tough, but most are prone to damage.
  • As well, there are limitations to Ethernet cables, in terms of length and its cost to run them.Most deployments using Ethernet assume that your building is pre-wired, which less and less are now.
  • In terms of applications, it is still dominant in connecting routers and most high-end computing devices
  • I was in a hotel a while back and I was struck to see how their main connection method to the Internet for most guests was a hard-wired connection ... can you imagine, no Wi-Fi in the room?Luckily, I had a laptop and was fine.Most computing device still have Ethernet connectors as standard, but that is starting to change, mostly driven by the need to thin down devices.
  • Although many of us often use wireless point of sale devices, either at our table in a restaurant or with a delivery, the majority of PoS devices in retail is still connected via hardwire.
  • In short, Ethernet is still a common technology for connecting to cellular gateways, but less than less devices are using it as their primary method of accessing the Internet in devices for the home or office.The continued growth of Wi-Fi, and the expected growth of 5G will further lead to its demise.

 

7 – Bluetooth (08:50)

  • Ah, Bluetooth.Way too much of my life has been spent trying to pair headsets, headphones or speakers using Bluetooth.While it has gotten much better, it is still annoying when it does not want to connect.
  • However, it definitely has emerged as the ideal short-haul network between devices when cost may be a factor. I expect Bluetooth to keep on being added to more and more devices.
  • Its low cost for components allows Bluetooth to be put into so many devices in our life.As speeds and costs continue to improve, expect this to continue.
  • Despite my frustrations, it has become more stable and easier to set up.It has also become more secure, allowing for it to be used in more situations.
  • Finally, its relatively low power usage allows for it to be used in battery powered situations where maximum battery life is needed.
  • On the negative side, since Bluetooth requires some sort of computing device to access the Internet, such as a laptop, phone or tablet, it is not ideal for standalone or real-time applications that may not have a device present.
  • As well, while some Industrial versions of BT have surprisingly long ranges between devices, it is generally somewhat limited in how far it can connect devices.
  • The first ideal application for Bluetooth is when you expect the user to pair the device up to a device to work, such as in the case of a wearable that will pair with a smartphone.
  • As well, another ideal application for Bluetooth is when it is used as an asset monitoring solution as part of a hub/spoke setup. Simply, a gateway connects to the Internet (using Wired or wireless) and to all of the assets via Bluetooth.This may be a car dealership tracking keys or a warehouse tracking a skid.
  • In the case of industrial Bluetooth, it is commonly used in communicating with medical equipment in hospitals.
  • Finally, as most cars are moving towards adding on-board connectivity, Bluetooth may be an option for some in-vehicle devices where you are planning on using the car’s internet connection to access the Internet.

 

8 – SigFox (10:51)

  • One of the lesser known entrants into the world of IoT is SigFox, which has some serious potential to be a dominant network, as long as you can live with some of its limitations. Many will be able to do so, but it is a network that you definitely want to do plenty of research before considering.
  • On the positive side, it excels in sending very small bits of data across the network.If your application is quite simple in nature (such as a very basic daily status), it offers a very compelling offer.
  • Its battery life is extraordinary, meaning that people are seeing times between battery changes that are much longer than we have ever seen before, often many years.This reduces the servicing and the cost of devices.
  • On the negative side, it seems to have a lower level of security than many competing technologies.
  • As well, it does not take much to exceed its data capabilities, so it is more limited.
  • Finally, while coverage is extensive in many parts of the world, it is not in most areas of North America.So, do your research before considering SigFox to ensure that you have coverage where you need it.
  • In terms of applications, SigFox has a similar customer base to some lower bandwidth cellular technologies, like CAT-M and especially NB-IoT when it comes out.The first network is tracking non-powered devices, like a porta-potty at a construction site or a skid being shipped between warehouses.
  • Similarly, it seems to be used a lot in deployments that are slightly below ground, such as some buried pieces of electrical equipment.
  • I can see it having some popularity in tracking some industrial equipment, such as compressors and valves
  • Finally, it should compete well with Cat-M when it comes to tracking some delivery services, but I see this more for tracking packages as opposed to vehicles as SigFox is not designed for objects in motion.

 

9 – LoRa (12:41)

  • The second of the lesser known, non-cellular options is LoRA, which is short for Long Range.It has definitely started to gain some momentum, so depending on your situation, it very likely is one to be on your radar.
  • The first upside is the extensive group of companies that have shown support for this technology, including Cisco, IBM and more.This likely means that it should have some good backing and it gives comfort for developers to invest time in this technology.
  • It looks to be quite secure, offering very high levels of security and encryption.This puts it on par with what most companies are looking to use.
  • It looks to be ideal for many lower cost applications.Some estimates are that, for instance, it can offer tank monitoring solutions with hardware costs as low as 40 dollars and on-going costs of just $2 or less.This may open up new markets that have never been effective to monitor before.
  • On the negative side, it is not a speedster, limiting its capabilities mostly to simple monitoring.
  • As well, it has a relatively high level of latency, making it not ideal for real-time applications.
  • In terms of applications, many municipalities and regions are looking at or have deployed Lora networks to monitor key assets like lighting systems and water levels.
  • Assuming there is coverage, Lora may be ideal for agricultural applications, such as watering systems and monitoring of the level of moisture in soil.
  • Environmental monitoring, as I have mentioned before, is a wide-ranging topic.It can be things like temperature monitoring, pH level monitoring of a river and measuring particles in the air. LoRa would be ideal to monitor these types of deployments.
  • The last type is smart metering, such as utility companies monitoring key assets in the field.
  • Finally, if you watched the first part of these series, you may have picked up that many of these applications could also be done using technologies like CAT-M, and that is true.There is a lot of overlap, so if you are doing low-bandwidth, simple monitoring, you will want to do a bit of research.
  • With LoRa, one of the biggest issues may be coverage, depending on where you live, so be sure to look into that as well before moving forward.

 

10 – Satellite (14:50)

  • If you literally need a technology to work at the end of the earth, you are going to be drawn to satellite technology, as it covers oceans, rural and mountain areas and just about everywhere else.
  • Not all networks are the same .... GEO satellites are fixed over one spot and are often used for higher data speed applications
  • Low-earth orbit ones fly relatively close to the earth, making them ideal for “relatively” real-time applications like voice.
  • Medium earth orbit systems operate much higher above the earth and offer much higher data speeds than lower ones.
  • There are other ones as well, including ones designed for TV.
  • The first benefit, as we mentioned, is coverage.No cellular network will ever approach the through level of coverage worldwide that a satellite network will offer.
  • For most applications, especially IoT, the speeds available from cellular are “good enough”.It won’t compete with 5G, but it is more than enough for most monitoring and simple IoT applications
  • On the negative side, satellite communication has a higher latency than many cellular networks.Now, many IoT applications are not materially affected by latency, so this may not be as issue
  • Finally, especially with the cost of cellular data for IoT expected to fall with the latest networks, satellite data can be much more expensive than other options.
  • Satellite has always done well in markets where, for the most part, it was the only option.As an example, if you are tracking a container across the ocean, it is your only option.
  • Similarly, if you are tracking a long-haul truck, although cellular coverage is vastly improved, satellite is an ideal fall-back for areas where it is not available.
  • In terms of fixed assets, Oil and Gas has been a long-time customer of satellite communications for most parts of their business.This includes tracking vehicles, but I wanted to talk about SCADA applications like monitoring oil wells and equipment.Satellite just worked ... there was no need to worry about if there was a cell tower nearby.
  • Finally, if your workers truly go everywhere, such as a forestry worker or disaster recovery crew, the only way that you could monitor if they are safe is to consider satellite, as works in all of the areas that they do.
  • In short, I look at satellite as being ideal in two scenarios.First, if your deployment is nowhere near cell coverage ... think off-shore drilling, extreme remote area of mountains and deserts.Second, if your solution may truly need to work everywhere, Satellite is the best option to make that happen.

 

11 - Private Radio / networks (17:25)

  • About 2 decades ago, I got my first exposure to private radio networks, as we were trying to convince a police force to use cellular data to transmit key data ... now, that seems dated, as virtually all forces have incorporated Cellular data in some form.
  • Before that, all data and voice traffic were sent on closed private radio networks.Private radio IoT is still quite big, not only in public safety, but in mining, oil/gas and many remote and industrial applications.
  • It is an optimal choice for many low-power applications, such as extremely remote monitoring applications
  • Easier to find support for many industrial protocols and port options ... although I will say that many industrial grade cellular modems have now made their way into this space and can often compete very well.
  • One recent trend has emerged ... private LTE networks.This will be ideal for cities, police forces, and utility companies.
  • On the negative side, you are running your own network.Do you have the time, expertise, available land for towers and redundancy plans to do such a thing?
  • Depending on what you are doing, you may find that your selection of devices is much smaller than on more popular networks like 4G and CAT-M
  • In short, the idea of having your own network is something that many will investigate, but few will move forward on.With cellular carriers offering better speeds, capacity and coverage than ever before, it has become a more difficult business case to make.
  • However, for those looking for maximum control and security, and having the willingness to put in the effort, it may make a lot of sense.That may include a municipality.Some have looked at networks like LoRa, while others are looking to launch their own LTE network for workers.It will be interesting to see how many do with the upcoming launch of Band14 networks.
  • Similarly, many utility companies may have hundreds of thousands of assets in a particular city.Most used a combination of short haul radio and cellular to bring back the data for processing.It will be interesting to see which way they go ... stick with what they have, embedded CAT-M or a running their own network?
  • As mentioned earlier, hub/spoke applications have many assets that all use same connection point to get access to the Internet.However, unlike the example of a car dealership looking for their keys, some assets in the field may be miles apart.I think that some may choose to use private radio technology to backhaul the data from the remote device to hub.
  • Finally, we always talk about how IoT is about data, but it is important to remember that many deployments use a combination of voice and data, such as a remote police officer.Private Radio is still preferred by many for voice-based traffic.
  • I think it will be interesting to see how much the new cellular technologies, as well as offerings like SigFox, change the mind of many companies and organizations when it comes to running their own networks.

 

 

12 – Comparison (20:17)

  • Here is a rough comparison between the networks when it comes to 4 important categories.One important thing to remember about several of these technologies is that the technology may contain a number of wide variables, as there is more than one option.As an example, satellite communication comes in both high speed flavours and lower speed ones.We will try to factor in these variables.
  • Data speed is an example of something that everyone thinks they need as much as possible, but most IoT applications are not speed dependent.If you are sending video, sure, you need a fairly high bandwidth application, but most IoT is based on lower bandwidth applications where data speed is not a factor.As always, consider what you may need now and what you may need in the future ... if you are only ever doing simple monitoring, you can get away with a network like SigFox, but if you may wish to add video, it becomes a bad choice quickly.
  • Similarly, latency is something that often has little impact on your application.If it takes one of your team 10 mins to get to a site, then will an extra second or two for the alarm to come in make a difference? ... probably not.However, if you are doing a real-time application, like some of the high security applications, the longer latency from a technology like Satellite makes it difficult.
  • I am starting to see a pattern here ... power usage matters in many applications, such as tracking devices or long-life battery powered asset monitors.However, if you are connecting to a power source that also powers a large compressor, it is doubtful that the power consumption from a gateway would make a difference.
  • In terms of costs, it is important to note that you also need to factor in Internet connectivity into some of these choices.A connection like SigFox or Satellite will handle the reporting of a device on its own, whereas a Bluetooth based connection requires its donor device to have Internet connectivity.If your customer is expected to provide it, then this may not be a factor.
  • As always, remember that you can always do a split deployment, using any one of these technologies (and even the 7 cellular-based ones mentioned in part one)

 

13 - Novotech contact slide (22:14)

  • Yes, you are finally done.
  • Many thanks for taking time out of your busy day to learn more about IoT networks ... we look forward to you joining us for future webinars.
  • Novotech is a great place to start your IoT journey. We have a lot of great material on our web page, offer industry leading service and expertise and have local presence through our vast reseller network.
  • I also ask that you follow us on LinkedIn and YouTube
  • Thanks again, take care

 

A.I.’s 10 “commandments”: Will they make a difference? ​

For a few different reasons, the idea of Artificial Intelligence (as well as Automation) scares many people.  Many people feel that it will put many people, especially those in the lower half of the income scale, out of work ... others are worried about AI may continue (or worsen) many biases and prejudices that are in society today ... and, others are fearful of machines taking over (like in the Terminator films).

 

So, what can we do to establish rules and guidelines to make sure that AI does not do those things and it truly helps society?  At a recent summit (the New Work Summit, hosted by the New York Times), attendees put together a list of 10 things that can help to ensure that AI is deployed ethically and fairly.  I have added some comment to each:

 

Transparency – Companies should be transparent about the design, intention and use of A.I.

There was an interesting point brought up during a recent episode of “Last Night Tonight with John Oliver”, where they showed some interviews with telephone operators about 35 years ago.  They were all concerned about how automated operators were replacing them, and their bosses were not saying anything.  Many AI solutions will be used to replace workers, but many will be used to enhance their work ... companies need to explain why they are doing this and how it will change things early on in the process.

 

Disclosure – Companies should clearly disclose to users what data is being collected and how it is being used

The big thing here is that it has to be clearly stated.  Putting it on page 125 of a boring legal document that everyone agrees to is not sufficient.

 

Privacy – Users should be able to easily opt out of data collection

As I have always stated, a free service is not free.  If it is a free service, the user must accept that the company has costs to keep the service running, so the collection/re-sale of data is likely.  As well, many services, like Uber, do not make it obvious as to the extent that they are collecting, often well beyond when someone is using the service.  This needs to be clearer.

 

Diversity – A.I. should be developed by inherently diverse teams

This is to ensure that systems are fair and accurate.  This includes using a more diverse base when it comes to feeding in images for facial recognition, as an example.

 

Bias – Companies should strive to avoid bias in A.I. by drawing on diverse data sets

Bias may be intention or unintentional.  Someone may have an obvious bias towards a certain group, but all of us may be more bias when on an empty stomach, as an example.  The appeal to A.I. is supposed to be its lack of fluctuation in judgement, based on experience and blood sugar level.

 

Trust – Organizations should have internal processes to regulate the misuses of A.I. (such as a Chief Ethics officer and/or an Ethics board)

Not much to say here ... I think they also need to gather input from their customers and employees too.

 

Accountability – There should be a common set of standards by which companies are held accountable for the use and impact of their A.I. technology

This one is tough.  Something that may have been developed for good can often be used for bad, such as many chemicals being turned into a weapon or a mathematical equation for finance being used to develop a bomb.  How much responsibility does the original inventor have?  However, if a company designs a product for a particular use, such as for war, they need to be open with their employees about such.

 

Collective governance – Companies should work together to self-regulate the industry.

The bigger issue here may be governments working together.  Having many governments set up rules for compensating displaced workers, ethic concerns and more is great, but if all countries do not agree, this puts many at a disadvantage and encourages outsourcing to less stringent countries.

 

Regulation – Companies should work with regulators to develop appropriate laws to govern the use of A.I.

Similar to the last point, in the world of global commerce, we need countries to work together for a common set of goals and rules.

 

Complementarity – Treat A.I. as tools for humans to use, not a replacement for human work

In the same episode of “Last Night Tonight”, they used the examples of bank tellers.  One common misconception is automated banking machines have led to the demise of the bank teller position.  In fact, in the first 20 years or so after bank machines have been introduced, the number of positions actually went up.  The reason is that the role of a teller was changed to more sales focused, as opposed to dispensing as much cash.  I think many companies will follow this model, but some will not and will just use it to cut jobs.

 

Is IoT leading to two different work forces?

There was a story a while back that highlighted a lot of the current divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.”  The story was how while stuck in a major traffic jam on a freeway, a son asked his Dad why they weren’t driving on the other highway (which he could see in the distance) that was pretty wide open.  The Dad responded, “That is for the rich people, Son, we are not rich.”  It seems that the area had a freeway (with no tolls) that most people used and the people with money in the area used the Toll road, which had a fee per mile of usage.

The divide between rich and poor has not been this big in decades in North America and one can only wonder how much of an impact technology, namely IoT-led automation, has had.  While this boom in technology has created many thousands of high paying Engineering and Technology positions, it has eliminated many middle-class positions such as bank tellers, factory workers and travel agents.  This trend is one that had no sign of slowing down, either.

So, when the news about how software-focused automation (namely AI-based solutions) are now going to have a similar type of impact on many white-collared jobs, such as analysts, researchers and financial staff, have we truly created two different work forces ... those who are involved in building the machines/software and those who look for work “scraps” not being replaced by automation?

There has been a big push by the Trump administration to bring back factories to the US.  While this may be an admirable task, it fails to deal with one issue ... even factories that may come back will not hire nearly as many workers as before.  One example is from Axon, who makes products like Taser and body cameras for police officers.  The company used to have 80 well-paid workers at their factory, and they now have 4 robots who are actually more productive.  You can contrast that to positions that are involved in designing and constructing robotic systems, which have seen a huge growth in the past decade.

So, this seems to fly in the face of the announcements of job growth in the US ... if that many jobs are being eliminated, where are all of the new jobs coming from?  Most of them are in areas like Food Service and Retail, ones that offer much less pay than previous roles for the middle class.  This has led to many having 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet.  Scarily, those jobs may be only temporary, as companies are trying to automate those areas as well.

So, what is the answer?  That is beyond me, but we better start to move fast as this trend is only accelerating ...

Webinar – Top 10 things you need to know before buying an IoT gateway ​

By: Larry Bellehumeur  |  March 5th, 2019

We get a lot of questions at Novotech on what to think about when buying and IoT Gateway (a.k.a. cellular modem, cellular router). So, I thought I would break it all down in an informative webinar.

Here is a link to the webinar.

And, if you’d like to  skip ahead to the parts relevant to your business, click on the sections below.

  1. Introduction (00:10)
  2. List of things to consider (01:31)
  3. What Radio Technology to choose (04:48)
  4. Operating Temperature (07:51)
  5. Ports and Local connectivity (09:23)
  6. How are you Powering the Gateway / Router (12:41)
  7. Selecting a Mobile Carrier (14:07)
  8. Input/output Ports (14:53)
  9. Fixed or Mobile Device Applications (17:01)
  10. Device Management (19:37)
  11. Network Redundancy / Dual SIM (21:50)
  12. Bridge Gateway / Router Mode (24:21)

The Full Script

List of things to consider (01:31)

  • First thing to know is that there is no particular order or level of importance for each of these factors in your choice.Each may be a deciding factor in your purchase
  • Next, some of these things may be features that you may not need to start but find out that you will need them in the future.One way to solve this is to buy “more gateway” than you need ... one example is the temperature specification. You may believe that your solution will always be deployed indoors in a controlled location, only to find out that you need to be able to deploy them in a tougher environment, one that is exposed to low and high temperatures.Buying a gateway that has a wider temperature specification will not add much to your cost upfront but may save you a lot down the road.
  • We will cover each of these 10 factors or features individually, but here is a quick recap:
  1. There are more choices in terms of networks than ever before, which is great for allowing you to deploy on a network that meets your speed, cost and power consumption needs than ever before.
  2. Think of most computing equipment ... it is usually designed to work in relatively controlled conditions.However, gateways have to work in many tough locations, so there is a variety of products to meet the temperature specifications that your solution demands.
  3. The power of a gateway is to provide connectivity for one or more devices.Each year, the array of ways that you can connect devices to a gateway grows larger, including many wired and wireless options.
  4. Most people only think power comes from a wall outlet, and they are just used to powering devices that way.However, in the world of IoT, there is DC power and Power over Ethernet to keep things running.We will cover when both are ideal choices and when they are not.
  5. While most gateways can work easily on many cellular carriers simply by changing the SIM card information, this may be a factor that you want to consider at the time of purchase, especially on global deployments.
  6. Most people are not familiar with Input/Outputs, making them one of the most underused things on most gateways.This is a shame, as they can provide some great information very easily and we will tell you how.
  7. While some gateways are equally capable of working in a fixed or a mobile environment, many are optimized for one or the other.It is a factor that you may want to decide before you make your purchase.
  8. Depending on how many devices you have, and equally important, how far they may be away from you, managing them can be almost a full-time job.There are one to one and one to many options to help you keep on top of this.
  9. Many deployments are important and need to have more than one connection to prevent downtime caused by network outages.It can be done in two ways, either through using a network redundancy solution with a router or by using more than one cellular connection, which we will cover in more detail later.
  10. Finally, depending on how you have your remote site set up, you may need a Gateway that can work in Bridge or Router mode.We use an easy to understand example, your home network to explain the difference.

 

What Radio Technology to choose (04:48)

  • The breadth of network offerings, in terms of offering different price points, data throughout speeds and power consumption levels, has been growing a lot in the past few years and this has made the choice more confusing.Hopefully, breaking it down into these 4 categories will help.
  • The first group is the High-Speed Cellular offerings, which would include 3G, 4G and soon, 5G.For those who are all about speed, this is the only group to consider.It provides speeds that rival what is available in many homes and businesses, and enough speed to allow for real-time solutions.This is especially true for 5G, which offers almost real-time levels of latency.The downside for these faster networks is the same downside of buying a car with a big engine ... you are going to pay more, and it is going to use more gas or in the case of the gateway, more power.This makes these devices not ideal for deployments that are powered by batteries or are power conscious.
  • Low Speed Cellular options are starting to emerge and will power the expected explosive growth of IoT more than any other group.CAT-1 offers the most speed of this group, allowing for enough bandwidth to download data quickly in applications like Digital Signage.CAT-M is the most recently launched one, currently being deployed in most areas of North America and many other areas of the world.It is ideal for applications that need a reliable connection but aren’t all about speed.Finally, NB-IoT (or NB1) will be the optimal choice for the extremely cost-conscious customer, although networks won’t be ready for a bit.
  • Wide Area Non-Cellular is a category that is relatively new but has become popular for certain segments.Low power networks like SigFox may prove popular in tracking and monitoring low cost assets better than many existing technologies.As well, many municipalities and regions are using LoRa equipment to provide a reliable method of talking to remote assets that does not use the Internet.The biggest concern for these networks now is lack of coverage, so time will tell how popular they become.
  • Local Area Non-Cellular includes popular choices like BlueTooth and Wi-Fi.These are ideal for many consumer and business applications where the customer is expected to use another source, such as their home or business connection, to gain access to the Internet.Another area is more industrial focused technologies like ZigBee, which can be ideal for communicating with remote equipment on a site.These technologies can be used as a standalone, but are also commonly found on many gateways, allowing you to communicate locally using them and then transmitting back to a main server using the built-in cellular connection
  • Finally, many manufacturers offer products with a variety of connection options, meaning that you can often use the same product/software and just change the connectivity option as needed.More about that in the section on Local Connectivity coming up shortly.

 

Operating Temperature (07:51)

  • Today's electronics are more capable than ever before when it comes to dealing with different temperatures.I take my iPhone out on runs on cold Calgary winter days and it seems to do fine.However, when your business relies on a product to work, you want to make sure that you are using a product that was designed to handle the rigours of your work environment.
  • Consumer grade devices are meant to be used in what is referred to as carpeted environments.They are more prone to overheating on a hot summer day and even though they may work at more extreme temperatures, they are definitely prone to failure.If your application has zero chance of exposure to extreme temps, these devices may be all you need.
  • Commercial grade devices offer a bit more protection.They may not fare well outside in the coldest day in a Minnesota winter, but they are sufficient for most areas.Many mid and higher tier gateways use this level as their entry point, allowing for the maximum amount of flexibility in deployments.
  • Finally, you have the ones that are meant to deal with the toughest conditions on the planet, the Industrial grade devices.They work in the areas that most don't want to ... extreme heat in deserts, high humidity levels seen in places like New Orleans, extreme cold in Northern Canada ... and they function well in deployments that have unheard of levels of vibration, such as on a dump truck.They are built to last, wherever you put them.

 

Ports and Local connectivity (09:23)

  • Out of the box, once set up, your gateway will look after establishing the connection to the network and it will maintain it at all times.But that is only half of the work, as you still need to connect your device to the gateway.In some cases, you may just be monitoring some simple variables via an Input port, which we will cover in a few slides and the gateway does all of the work.In most cases, however, you are going to connect your chosen device to the gateway and that can be via a variety of wired and wireless methods.Here are the 4 common ones ...
  • We all know the fun of using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in our person lives.Most of us use Bluetooth technology to link together headphones and speakers to our various tablets and phones and the majority of households use Wi-Fi to enable their kids to play Fortnite and watch YouTube videos for hours at a time.They are also used heavily in the world of gateways, as they enable communication between devices and the gateway, such as in the case of an EMS attendant who is now able to move away from the vehicle and record information on a tablet that transmits using Wi-Fi.
  • In some cases, the distance between the devices and the gateway can be too long, or there is too much in-between (such as walls) to allow Wi-Fi to work.In those, and other Industrial cases, radio technology is used to communicate between the gateway and devices.One of the more popular ones is ZigBee, which is a common Industrial tool.
  • Ethernet is the old stand-by, the old reliable, whatever you wish to call it.There is something that gives people a sense of security and reliability when there is a physical cable connecting things.It still works well for many applications, but it is not without its issues.Running cables can be expensive and they are prone to damage.As well, it can reduce the amount of flexibility in deployments.Still, it is heavily used in many industrial and in-vehicle communications and has a long life ahead of it.
  • Serial ports, on the other hand, are starting to disappear.However, many applications, especially in the Industrial world, still heavily rely on ports such as RS-232 and RS-485 to communicate.The serial port may be going away, but it is not dead yet.
  • Finally, we have USB.Like Serial, it is not as popular as it may have been for IoT devices, namely due to the emergence of Wi-Fi and the increased speed offered by Bluetooth.However, also like Serial, there are a lot of devices that use USB, including gateways connecting to routers as a backup, something we will cover in a bit.One issue with USB has always been the lack of a locking mechanism, so it never did find its way into many rugged applications where vibration may be an issue.
  • One thing to remember is that you may not know what port offerings you need for the next 3, 5 or 10 years for your devices.To help, most gateways offer more than one of these offerings on a single device and some even offer the ability to expand at a future date, if your needs were to change.

 

How are you Powering the Gateway / Router (12:41)

  • One often overlooked decision about a gateway is how you are going to power it.The good thing is that virtually every gateway offers the ability to be powered by the first two options and more are adding the ability to be powered by the third ... here is a quick overview.
  • AC power is the most common power source we have in our lives.Depending on where you live, there may be a different number of prongs on the plug, but most people understand how it works.You just plug it into the wall …
  • DC power requires the product to be a bit more flexible.Many DC sources have more fluctuation in their offerings, so most gateways that can be powered by DC are designed to deal with this.This is the method of choice for in-vehicle installs and most industrial applications.
  • PoE, or Power over Ethernet, was once the domain of the IT world.By sending both power and data across the same cable, installers are given more flexibility as where to place devices.In the world of IoT, this means that you can potentially move the gateway closer to the outside, allowing for a shorter antenna cable, which maximizes coverage.
  • As mentioned, most gateways offer the choice of AC and DC power and more and more are offering PoE as an option.

Selecting a Mobile Carrier (14:07)

  • A cellular gateway needs to have an active connection from a cellular carrier, otherwise, it is a very nice-looking paperweight in most cases.
  • In the past, the choice of carrier often had to be done at the time of purchase, as devices on some legacy networks were tied into one provider.
  • With the emergence of 4G, the ability to switch carriers has become much easier, so if your deployment is always going to be in the same country, you don't have to factor in this into your decision.
  • However, if your application may need to cross over into different parts of the world, you need to factor in that different parts of the world use different frequency ranges.To help, many gateways are capable of working in multiple areas, but you will want to verify this before you purchase.

 

Input/output Ports (14:53)

  • Without a doubt, one of the most under-utilized portions of a gateway are the Input and Output ports.They can be used to gather many key pieces of information, but few know much about them.
  • So, what are they?Inputs are used to take in either an on/off signal or a reading of key items.Examples may include how many times a door has opened, what the level of grain is in a storage container or how many marathon runners have gone past a particular distance marker.Outputs are a bit different, as it originates from the gateway and a signal is sent to a device.It may be to open a key door, such as door at a remote secure location.There are two different forms of Inputs and Outputs, Digital and Analog
  • Digital inputs have only two states, they are on or off, similar to a light switch.In the case of a marathon, an input can be received from a motion sensor, a laser beam that is broken by the runner or when they step on a particular mat. That signal is then sent to the gateway, and can be handled in a couple of ways, which we will talk about shortly.
  • Digital outputs are similar, in that they only have two states.However, the difference is that the gateway (on behalf of the user) is initiating the interaction.It will send a pulse to initiate a change in state on the device ... like opening a gate at a parking lot.
  • Finally, you have Analog inputs.They work on various ranges, as opposed to on-off status.So, they are able to work with sensors to determine the level of key things, such as the amount of grain inside one of these silos.
  • In the past, the Gateway acted only as a conduit or a transport method to bring back the various input results or to send the Output request.The most recent batch of gateways have become incredible smart, allowing for both on-board programming and extensive computing power to write scripts and coding.This allows the Gateway to execute "if then that" commands, to record key information and to replace many expensive computing devices.

 

Fixed or Mobile Device Applications (17:01)

  • In this fast-paced world of business that we are in, things can change quickly.One example is how devices that were once deployed in a fixed deployment are now being expected to work in a mobile environment.One example is in the food industry ... people are ditching the old brick and mortar restaurants and moving towards pop-up restaurants and food trucks at an incredible rate.Many are hoping to use as much of their current equipment as possible in these new ventures.
  • There is some hope here, however.Most reliable enterprise grade gateways are up to the task of working in either environment, although some designed to be used in fixed environments may not have all of the features that you would want in a Mobile gateway, and we will cover that in a second.
  • Fixed gateways are generally meant to be used for applications like remote monitoring, replacing an existing landline or backing up a main connection (which we will talk about in a couple of slides), such as in the case of a retail store.They are generally powered by AC power and may or may not have the ruggedness to handle rough conditions.Depending on the nature of their expected deployments, some fixed gateways are built tougher, such as those used for Oil and Gas and Utilities.Finally, more of them are equipping themselves with enterprise grade security so that they can be used as a standalone, without the need for an expensive router.
  • Mobile Gateways work on the same idea but offer some advantages that make them ideal for a life on the road.First, they are powered by DC, which is ideal for most vehicles.As you may remember, most Gateways can work on AC or DC, so this is not much of a difference.The main differences are GPS and ruggedness.Life in a vehicle is tough ... hot summer days, cold winter nights, potholes and more.Gateways designed for this life tend to be more rugged.The bigger difference, however, is GPS, or the ability to report accurate positioning of the device.This allows for an increased level of safety and productivity for an organization.Finally, some of the more advanced mobile gateways offer things like Dead Reckoning, which allows for an accurate location even when GPS may not be available, such as in the case of an underground tunnel or a parking garage.
  • To recap, this is a decision that you will want to make and take your time in doing so.If you have any doubt as to which type you may need, you may wish to opt for a mobile gateway, as you will have an increased level of flexibility.Just make sure that the device can be powered by AC, which most can.

Device Management (19:37)

  • IT departments are in kind of a dilemma when it comes to IoT gateways.They, along with the business teams, love the flexibility it gives them and most appreciate the level of reliability and security that today's gateways offer.However, it brings up something they hate ... more work.How do you manage devices that never come back to the office?It is hard enough to manage phones and laptops, and now this?Luckily, today's gateways offer some incredible tools to manage things like firmware levels, settings and the level of security.
  • The basic way that most devices do this is what is referred to as one-to-one management.In this case, an administrator can remotely connect to a device and make all of the required changes.This works great if you have one, two or a few devices ... not so great if you have hundreds or thousands.You can use a script to streamline this, but it is still cumbersome.This is the default offering, usually free, for most Gateways.
  • One-to-many is the other method, and this has a lot of things going for it.You can make changes to all devices at once, such as the changing of a setting or upgrading firmware.As well, these offerings usually allow for an easier way of gathering data, such as uptime and location, from your devices at a glance.The downside is that it usually is not free, but when you factor in the costs of managing a lot of devices on a one to one basis, it is not a hard cost to justify for most IT teams.
  • A couple of other factors in your decision ... how often do you need to make changes?The more often you do, the more that a one-to-many solution will make sense.The other is your security level and more specifically, do you have any issues using cloud-based software offerings to manage your devices?Most organizations have everything else in the cloud, so there is no issue, but some (especially government agencies like police forces) may have policies against doing this.To help, many companies are offering one-to-many management tools that can be purchased and deployed internally.

Network Redundancy / Dual SIM (21:50)

  • For the purposes of time, I put these two together on the same slide, as well as the fact that they are related.However, both have an incredible level of importance in their own right.
  • Network redundancy is when you have two different and unrelated technologies that work together to provide your deployment with a reliable and secure Internet access.It may be a landline/wireless combo, two separate wireless networks or wireless/satellite for remote deployments.
  • In any case, a network is chosen as its primary and the other is deemed to be secondary, usually the one with the lowest cost and/or greatest speed is the primary.The most common pair is landline (like DSL, cable or Fibre)/wireless, so we will walk through this example.
  • Most of the time, the wireline connection is the one providing connectivity.In the event that it is not available, a router detects this and switches over to the backup (or wireless) connection.When it detects that the main line is back up, it switches back just as seamlessly.This will allow you to continue taking Point of Sale Transactions at a busy retail store, as an example. This backup can be done on a dedicated router, or increasingly, it is being done on the cellular gateway, which has the built-in ability to handle the switching between the two.
  • In some cases, a cellular-based connection is used as both the primary and as the secondary communication method.This may be because of availability (maybe the deployment moves or is too far to run a landline to) or increasingly, cellular is offering better performance than landline.This is especially the case with the upcoming launch of 5G where many companies will cut the wire, even when a landline is readily available.
  • For many deployments, a single cellular connection is more than enough.However, in the case of deployments that require a maximum amount of reliability, such as at a railroad switching location, a 2nd cellular network is often used.In most cases, it is from a different provider and one that uses a different network infrastructure from the primary connection.
  • Many gateways are able to accommodate this by implementing Dual-SIM technology.The gateway can use the SIMs to provide a failover method, or in some cases, it can use both SIMs at the same time and load-balance to maximize data throughput.

 

Bridge Gateway / Router Mode (24:21)

  • The final thing ... yes, you are almost done listening to me, is how you are going to use your gateway in terms of its routing capability.To best describe this, I will use the example of your home router and network.
  • In most cases, you are provided an Internet gateway by your landline provider.Often, these Gateways have built-in routing and Wi-Fi capability, so you do not need to purchase your own Wi-Fi router.If this is how you deploy it, the Internet Gateway is working in Router mode, as it is the one that is slicing and dicing your connection to provide connectivity to many devices.
  • I want to avoid too much nerdiness, but this is important to know ... what it is doing is taking the single IP address that comes to your device and allowing all of the devices on your network to share one single access point to the Internet.The other thing that it does is to direct (or route) local traffic, so if you are trying to send information from one computer to another in your home, it knows to keep that traffic local and not go out to the Internet.
  • However, many people choose to deploy their own router instead of using the one from the provider.This is especially true for gamers and those who may have coverage issues in their home.In this case, you do not want the gateway from your provider to do the routing, you just want to enable connectivity to your home.So, it goes into what is often called “bridge mode.”
  • Bridge mode is when the gateway from the provider passes the IP address to the router that you bought, and the router handles everything.Hope that makes sense ...
  • The same holds true for gateways.In many locations, there is no router on-site, so organizations use the routing ability inside of the cellular gateway to do this.However, at bigger sites, such as at a retail store, the IT team may want to use specialized routers to handle traffic, so the cellular gateway is just used to provide connectivity, or a "bridge" to the Internet.It is also common when working with Industrial equipment at remote sites.
  • One important thing to note here is that cellular gateways have seen such huge advancements in their routing capability that many are now competitors to most traditional routers and are replacing them at a staggering rate.
  • Finally, there are scenarios where you don't have an existing router on site and still need to use the cellular gateway in bridge mode, but those are becoming less common all of the time.

 

 

Slide 15 - Closing (26:46)

  • Yes, you are finally done. Many thanks for taking time out of your busy day to learn more about IoT gateways.
  • Novotech is a great place to start your IoT journey. We have a lot of great material on our web page, offer industry leading service and expertise and have local presence through our vast reseller network.
  • I also ask that you follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube ... Thanks again and take care.