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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- Not all networks are the same .... GEO satellites are fixed
over one spot and are often used for higher data speed
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
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
- 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
LinkedIn and YouTube
- Thanks again, take care