Key Factors to consider in IoT Cellular Connectivity
Contributors: Tom Amershek, Sr. Mgr., IoT Solution Architecture & Development; Robert Shidla, Sr. Mgr., IoT Solution Architecture & Development
In previous posts, we discussed the “starting points” for developing IoT solutions. There is the selection of a Development Kit, and the need to determine what type of connectivity is needed for your solution. If cellular connectivity is preferred, there are several important things you should know before beginning to develop. In this post, I’ll try and answer some of the key cellular technology questions.
An IoT solution, especially in the Supply Chain and Transportation industries, has to be able to connect to the network from anywhere without the need for reconfiguration. Cellular networks from providers like Verizon keep your solution connected, while simplifying common tasks like product line testing, installation, remote updates and device maintenance.
A new product or solution never gets a second chance to make a first impression. A user-friendly, positive experience is just what is needed. When a user can unbox a product, apply power, and immediately begin using it, the experience is much more likely to be positive. There’s no pairing or complicated setup to undergo before launch. Cellular gives you the ability to ship a product ready-to-use, out-of-the-box.
The cellular licensed spectrum has several advantages over unlicensed spectrums like what is used for WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, and SigFox. The biggest advantage is that only the owner of the spectrum license is permitted to transmit on the frequency in the given licensed area. Unlicensed wireless technologies force users to compete for “clean air” in a large pool of devices transmitting on unlicensed frequencies, including 900MHz, 2.4GHz, and 5GHz. Verizon owns several blocks of licensed spectrum.
How is LTE different from 2G and 3G cellular?
LTE, which is commonly referred to as 4G because of its inherent performance numbers, is the Long-Term Evolution of the GSM standard. In the case of Verizon’s network, GSM represents a departure from the CDMA standard, which is used for Verizon’s existing 2G and 3G networks. LTE networks are an improvement over the previous network generations in several ways. It allows link-layer encryption, better spectral efficiency, modulation techniques for improved power budget, multiple antenna options (MIMO), decreased latency (from sub-100ms to sub-30ms), and channel bandwidth increases for much greater throughput.
Although some IoT companies are still using the legacy 2G and 3G networks, carriers worldwide have already begun migrating away from their 2G networks and many have published plans for also retiring 3G.
What are the different types of LTE technologies?
LTE defines Classes or Categories for how the User Equipment (UE) interacts with the tower, or the eNode B. The term Category is often abbreviated as “Cat,” such as Cat-M or Cat-1. The following chart describes some of the important differences in the various Categories.
M2M or CDMA Replacement
Comparable to 4G
Comparable to 3G
Comparable to 2G
Comparable to 2G
Take note: Just because a network operator has LTE network available, it does not necessarily mean it supports every LTE category.
In my next post, I’ll be delving into some of the IoT-specific implementations available with the 4G LTE network.
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