To think we live in a wirelessly connected world is a bit of an understatement
Our lives revolve around technology! Here us out: many of us begin our days checking our smartphones. We often tell Alexa to switch on the radio while preparing a meal and use wearables to track our daily workouts. None of this was imaginable ten years ago!
Add the Internet of Things (IoT) to the mix in the public spaces, and we can suddenly operate systems and devices from afar — from automatically-controlled street lights to agri-apps to optimize fertilizer usage to remotely-monitored parking garages.
Long gone are the days of long wires and tin cans. Today, communication protocols such as cellular, Bluetooth, and WiFi rule the roost and provide us seamless connectivity anywhere we are, regardless of the device in use. Life without access to the internet is now unthinkable.
With 5G around the corner, cellular IoT is mainly well-positioned to benefit from higher bandwidth solutions that would usually be allocated to WiFi or wired Ethernet.
Defining cellular IoT
Cellular IoT is the technology that connects physical objects to the internet via cellular networks (manufactured with an eSIM or SIM slot) for data transmission by simply leveraging the same infrastructure as that of mobile phones.
Here, physical objects refer to sensors, single-board computers, actuators, and microcontrollers. The cellular IoT market is predicted to grow to $5.31
Additionally, according to Ericsson, the number of devices connecting to 20+ already-installed cellular IoT networks is set to scale at a CAGR of 19%
The rise and use of cellular IoT
The increasing demand for low-power consuming devices and extended network coverage areas is what makes cellular IoT a hot favorite. Plus, its ability to leverage mobility and range better than other IoT-accessed methods gives its service delivery techniques an edge.
When you think about how cellular relates to the IoT, shift your focus from person-to-person” cellular connections and instead focus on device-to-device connections” or device-to-person-to-device connections” and every other iteration in between.
The cellular IoT technology often comes in handy to:
• Monitor school buses in real-time to ensure they are on schedule and the students are safe
• Set up automated counters in public parks for counting the attendance daily, eliminating the hassle of recruiting human resources to do this job manually
• Start farm machinery remotely to manage the production quality conveniently
But the cellular IoT technology is so much more. The next section discusses the benefits it brings on the table:
Five key benefits of cellular IoT
Robust security options and private networks
Every IoT application requires security protocols to safeguard sensitive data from unauthorized disclosure. This is especially important for all sensitive data-monitoring devices such as medical devices that comprise patient history or smart city systems.
Thankfully, cellular IoT apps can deploy private network technologies such as APNs, VPNs, and IPSec protocols to cover all bases and add multiple security layers to the device, network, and data. This minimizes unnecessary data leakage concerns to a great extent.
Remote monitoring of physical systems
The cellular IoT technology enables technicians to remotely track, connect-or-disconnect, and troubleshoot interlinked devices — irrespective of their location. That means you do not have to manually fix the systems if they show anomalies. Merely alerting the technicians can do the job.
Such cellular communications minimize operational inefficiencies and significantly reduce expenses concerning the field service. You can monitor device downtime and usage to make the most out of your IoT development process hassle-free.
Connectivity options for different business purposes
The good thing is there are many cellular IoT connections (such as 4G LTE, NB-IoT, LTE Advanced, and so on) to choose from, depending on your data transmission requirements. That means there is no need to pay for the most costly option if 3G internet connectivity is enough for you.
This could mean you do not carry heavy data loads such as videos that require immediate reaction time and zero buffering for a flawless user experience.
Access to a wide coverage area
Cellular IoT uses pre-existing mobile networks, which means there is already a commendable coverage area in place. The arrangement also makes device distribution across various countries and cities possible, essential from an information availability perspective.
Only those IoT services are thriving where the data is accessible, an essential requirement in asset tracking, fleet management, and other global transportation scenarios where optimizing time and finances is critical.
Seamless network switching
Unlike consumer SIMs, Machine-2-Machine (M2M) SIM cards can automatically switch between carriers by applying their steered and non-steered open roaming functionalities. That means the device will automatically switch to the network having the strongest signal in a specific area.
This feature helps in reducing downtime and ensuring reliable connectivity and does not hamper the flow of data across devices, anywhere and anytime. The success of IoT depends on how swiftly the data transmits between platforms, regardless of the location.
Five ways cellular IoT is making progress
There is no doubt that cellular IoT technologies are set to drive digitalization by delivering machine-to-person and M2M communications on a grand scale. Here is how the technology plans to create new opportunities for businesses in the years to come:
Large data movements
As various cellular networks are used worldwide, they can facilitate large data movements, which means there is no need to build any physical infrastructure to support cellular IoT. The coverage will virtually reach everywhere people are using the apps because of the open standards of the existing physical infrastructure.
Improved battery life
Modern cellular sensors transmit high volumes of data covering vast distances without the hassle of losing battery quickly. We indeed have
come a long way because, for years, cellular-powered IoT desktops consumed a lot of electricity, limiting their utility to only apps. Now the internet also reaches the wearables.
More extensive coverage
With 5G on the horizon, the future does look bright for cellular IoT. 5G is touted as the future of mobile connectivity, providing ultra-low latency, automated data communication, and blazing-fast speeds. That means faster internet speed and larger coverage — which is a necessity for the IoT market to thrive.
Concurrent device operations
Many IoT-enabled devices can operate simultaneously because of the advancement in the coexistence mechanisms in LTE broadband. This is already proven today with the massive number of mobile phones being used within a small area.
Multi IoT device support
One LTE mobile site can support millions of IoT devices based on the use case. That is because of the core network enhancements such as upgrades for high-capacity platforms, signaling optimization, and service differentiation handling.
The future of cellular IoT is now
It is pretty exciting to see that the combination of cellular IoT connectivity and affordable broadband on a global scale offers businesses an excellent opportunity to grow. Not only are cellular IoT tools and platforms cost-efficient, long-lasting, and uncomplicated, but they also deliver a strong value proposition. What is not to like about this next-gen technology?
About the Author
Patrick Rupareliya is Head of Strategy at Intuz. Intuz is an industry leading technology solutions provider, established in 2008. With the world-class technical supervision, robust infrastructure and growing team of experts in prominent tech, strategic and operations management, we are serving the clients across the globe with mobile app development, enterprise mobility, cloud & app marketing services.
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Featured image: ©DedMityay