4G LTE: Proven technology that you already know

 

The majority of smartphones run on 4G technology today, so most people have a comfort factor. 

For many applications, it has been the default way to connect IoT for the past few years.

 

Features of the technology

• Proven reliability and extensive network coverage in most areas.

• Offers fast speeds that are suitable for many applications

• Latencies are the lowest among any cellular technology currently widely available.

• Large selection of devices available today.

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• 4G LTE is deployed in most urban centres around the world and often extends into many rural areas.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• Offers speeds that are capable of powering most applications, even those requiring very high speeds.

• It is widely available and is a proven technology.

• It has a higher cost (for hardware) than some of the emerging technologies and is not ideal for applications requiring low-power components.

 

Ideal applications

• Vehicle-based networks / Communication

• Routers and Gateways

• Most landline replacement applications

 

When you shouldn’t use it

• When there is little (or no) benefit gained by the extra speed offered

• For applications that want to minimize the power consumption of the device

5G and IoT: Is it like taking the kids to school in a Ferrari?

 

Overview of the technology

• 5G is the evolution of the cellular data network, updating 4G (LTE) networks that are prevalent today.

• It is about speed- 5G introduces speeds that will rival speeds offered by landline connections in many areas. It also reduces network latency to make it feasible for use on many truly “real-time” applications.

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• 5G has limited availability today, mostly at test sites and in controlled environments. 

It is expected to start its deployments in 2019 in most urban areas.

• Due to the intensive nature of a rollout, expect a delay to deployments is happening in most rural areas.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• 5G speeds allow for many data-intensive applications to consider using a cellular connection for the first time.

• Another great benefit to 5G for IoT is the introduction of “Massive IoT.” Massive IoT is expected to allow an incredible number of devices to use the network in an area, up to one million in a square mile! 

• One disadvantage is cost, as 5G will be more expensive than its other technologies. 

Most IoT applications will not see the benefit.

• The other disadvantage is power use. The extra speed offered requires more power than other networks.

 

Ideal applications

• Applications who need close to real-time connectivity, such as financial transactions, remote surgery and critical infrastructure monitoring.

• Landline replacement applications, such as primary connectivity for a home or business.

• Mobile-based applications that have zero tolerance for delay, such as self-driving cars and communication for public safety vehicles.

 

When you shouldn’t use it

• If the application cannot benefit from the extra speed.

• If the application is sensitive to power use

• If the cost of hardware is a significant factor, especially if the application is not susceptible to the longer latencies from other technologies.

CAT 1: The “Goldilocks” of technologies?

 

Considered to be the faster of the medium IoT technologies, CAT 1 offers a compelling balance of cost, throughput speed and battery consumption. It may be the ideal application for those who want just a bit of everything.

 

Features of the technology

• Offers download speeds of up to 10Mbps (upload of up to 5Mbps), making it a viable option for applications that require real-time transmissions.

• Its lower complexity means that components are less expensive than CAT4 (LTE) products.

• While not as efficient as CATM1 or NB1, it requires less power than other cellular technologies.

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• CAT1 networks are available in most markets today.

• Modules and gateways are also available.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• CAT 1 offers enough speed and low latency to be ideal for some real-time applications, while still offering more moderate costs.

• One issue is that it does not excel at anything; some technologies are much faster, and there are lower costs and less power.

 

Ideal applications

• Digital Signage

• Kiosks / Panels

• Some video surveillance applications

• Healthcare equipment

 

When you should not use it

• When you need more if you need to have a fast connection or need the device to be very low power, it is not the ideal application.

CAT-M1: For when you need “just a little” speed

 

Two new IoT-Focused networks are coming into the market over the next 18-24 months, referred to as CAT-M1 and NB-1 (or NB-IoT). In this post, we examine the “faster” of the two, CAT-M1 …

 

Features of the technology

• CAT-M1 is considered a “medium data rate” network, offering up to 375Kbs to 1 Mbps.  

• It provides support for Voice-based applications and will work in a mobile environment

• It is considered to be a low-power network, allowing for extended life in battery-based applications

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• There have been many announcements by cellular carriers over the past few weeks about M1 networks, but most have not listed exact launch dates and rollouts.

• It is expected that most North American carriers will deploy this technology before the end of 2019.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• M1 will offer “just enough” speed for many critical applications that require the transmission of more than just simple text. While it is not optimized for video, it may work for sites that transmit little data most of the time, but require things like remote firmware upgrades periodically.

• Unlike NB-IoT, it does work well in mobile deployments, making it the likely choice for many tracking based applications.

• While it is considered to be a low-power network, it may not be ideal for many applications that are looking for maximum battery life.

 

Ideal applications

• Mobile health (like smartwatches)

• Asset Tracking

• Patient Monitoring

 

When you shouldn’t use it

• If the application is always in a fixed location and throughput speed is not a factor, it offers no advantages over NB-1

• If your application may benefit from the extra bandwidth provided from LTE or 5G, such as in the case of a possible real-time communication requirement.

NB1: When speed is not a factor in your decision

 

NB-1 is the 2nd of the IoT-focused networks coming to the market over the next 18 months. One great analogy for it comes from the world of couriers; think of it as the “Ground” option. Your “package” will get there slower, but if you don’t need the speed, why not save a little?

 

Features of the technology

• The slowest of the IoT-based networks offer speeds up to 200Kbps (likely slower in actual use).

• It provides the lowest power usage of any of the technologies, making it ideal for applications working on battery power.

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• It appears that most countries will deploy both M1 and NB1 networks nationwide, but the information is sketchy.

• Expect most urban areas to be covered in the next 6-9 months, with rural areas a bit later.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• It offers the lowest power use and likely the most economical cost hardware for IoT deployments.

• It will excel at extending coverage into areas like parking garages and buildings.

• The trade-off is slower speeds and higher latency, which may not be suitable for many applications.

• It is not ideal for mobile deployment.

 

Ideal applications

• Sensor Monitoring

• Simple control applications

• Low-power / remote deployments

 

When you shouldn’t use it

• Applications that are sensitive to a high latency

• Mobile Applications

• Applications that may require “bursts of speed.”

SigFox: Great technology for some applications- when it is available

 

The first non-cellular that we will talk about, SigFox, offers some compelling features that may appeal to many. It provides very low-cost hardware, among the lowest amount of data transmitted for some applications, and incredible battery life for its devices. But, it may not be ideal for many.

 

Overview of the technology

• It is defined as an ultra narrowband technology, as it sends tiny messages.

• It offers an ideal platform for some applications that transit infrequently.

• It is optimized for mobile-originated traffic (like a device reporting back in)

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• This is one of the drawbacks of this technology, depending on where you live. Some areas of the world have been completely blanketed with coverage, while others are much more sparsely covered.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• As a network designed for low amounts of short transmissions, SigFox excels at most remote monitoring applications

• Its ability to transmit data efficiently results in low battery usage. When you combine this with lower-cost hardware, it can offer a compelling ROI to monitor devices that were not financially feasible to do previously.

• Many devices may require more bandwidth than is provided by this technology. Some have found that it was more prone to interference and it does not provide the same security standards as other technologies

 

Ideal applications

• Remote monitoring of fixed assets

• Applications looking for maximum battery life

 

When you shouldn’t use it

• If there is no coverage (check maps before deployment)

• Mobile applications

• Applications that need more than “text messaging” size transmissions.

LoRa - Are you a Do-it-yourself kind of company?

 

One fast-growing way to connect an IoT device is using LoRa (Long Range, Low Power) networks. If there is coverage available in your area, it may be an ideal choice for many.

 

Overview of the technology

• It is an extensive area network technology that allows for the connection of many IoT devices. 

It can be privately deployed, or one could use an available public network.

• It offers a lot of powerful features … long-range, long battery life, low-cost devices and decent data rates for many applications.

• Its strong end to end security is making it ideal for many critical applications.

 

Where is it available today (and in the future)?

• Private LoRa networks can be built anywhere there is supporting infrastructure.

• Although it is not as widely available as cellular-based technologies, the coverage area for public LoRa networks is increasing.

 

Its capabilities, advantages and disadvantages

• The throughput speeds of this network make it ideal for most basic IoT applications.

• Its high-security level, ability to handle many devices, and a low number of towers / wide coverage areas make it an ideal for many municipalities.

• If your application is even a little data-intensive, it may exceed the speed capabilities.

• It offers a higher network latency than many cellular options

 

Ideal applications

• Many low-bandwidth fixed assets spread over a wide geographic area

• Cities or municipalities looking to monitor thousands of assets

 

When you shouldn’t use it

• Public LoRa networks are not as widely available as cellular networks, check on coverage before considering it

• If your application requires faster data speeds or low latency times