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