Without Connectivity There is No IoT

IoT connectivity has evolved

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IoT Security: The Tele2 IoT White Paper

Without connectivity there is no IoT – it is the foundation upon which everything else is built. But connectivity has evolved since the early days of IoT and today there are a wide range of connectivity alternatives, which can make it challenging to understand which one is right for your solution.  

Back in the early days of connecting things, selecting your cellular connectivity technology was pretty simple: you popped a SIM card into your device and used 2G data or SMS. 2G was quite mature and stable and offered a simple way to transport small amounts of data for the high value use cases that was first addressed.  

Today, the number of devices has skyrocketed globally, and the use cases are much more varied, so it makes sense that connectivity would evolve in order to adapt to different needs, including cellular technology. This evolution drives complexity in IoT, both on the device side and the connectivity side, and makes it more challenging for customers to make the right technology choice. Today, it might be 2G and 4G, but tomorrow it will be one of the 5G technologies.  

When looking at which IoT connectivity technology is right for you and your business, there are a number of factors to consider, including bandwidth capacity, coverage, and power consumption. 

You need to ask yourself if you need connectivity right now, or will you need it a year from now and ten years forward. What is your data and latency? How easy will it be to exchange the technology going forward, and what are the basic requirements of your use case?

6 connectivity components

Coverage 

Some IoT solutions need deep indoor coverage, while others regularly move around so that they always will find coverage somewhere. We are used with having cellular networks having 2G and LTE coverage almost anywhere and the technologies LTE-M and NB-IoT allow for even better coverage. If we assume that LTE-M and NB-IoT are activated in the same cells as is currently providing LTE, an extended coverage than what is provided today by the network operators can be expected.

Power consumption

Power consumption may play a critical role in the type of connectivity you choose for your IoT solution. Will your devices have constant availability of a power source or will they run on battery power? Will the batteries be rechargeable, or can they be easily replaced? LTE-M and NB-IoT are conservative on battery power and have battery saving possibilities such as PSM (Power Saving Mode) and eDRX (Extended Discontinuous Reception) that can reduce power consumption by reducing the responsiveness of the device. By securing good coverage where the device is located and limiting the communication, battery power can be saved.

Bandwidth & latency

Does your IoT solution require high data output with low latency, or will you be transmitting small amounts at regular intervals? There is a vast difference between CCTV with its high usage and bandwidth requirements, charging stations that need to be instantly activated, and temperature sensors with regular sensor readings – different factors will affect your choice of technology. LTE and 5G support low latency, high bandwidth, while LTE-M and NB-IoT support low cost and power consumption.

Cost

Total cost of ownership in IoT solutions include multiple cost points, such as subscription and usage fees for connectivity, bill of material for the device, the need to visit the device regularly and, in some cases, even running your own last mile network. The choice of technology affects the cost for your IoT solution. Make sure you are getting the connectivity you need at a total cost that fits your budget.

Most operators today offer a connectivity management platform to manage your cellular connectivity. They should offer smart automation functionality that can help you ensure that your connectivity costs are under control during the lifetime of the device with a limited amount of manual intervention.

Reliability and Security

For almost any IoT solution, reliability and security are crucial. For some, the connectivity is mission critical for providing the service. When selecting connectivity technology, make sure that you select one where there are partners that can provide a reliable and secure network service.

Long-term Support

The business case of most IoT solutions rely on devices that are functional for a long period of time. Depending on the technology and supplier choice, this will affect the long-term support. Cellular operators offer services on licensed frequencies that are backed by GSMA and 3GPP. We see that 2G and 3G networks are being sunsetted, while LTE and 5G will be around for many more years. LTE-M and NB-IoT are forward compatible in 5G and will have long term support in the industry.

 

IoT will continue to evolve – as new technologies emerge, others are being sunsetted.  It is crucial that your connectivity provider is not able to just meet your needs today, but is also preparing to meet them tomorrow.

If you would like to learn more about how Tele2 IoT can meet your connectivity needs, please get in touch..