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:
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
I also ask that you follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube
... Thanks again and take care.