Why IoT deployments require a special approach to connectivity.
by Baruch Pinto
IoT deployments need connectivity that is robust and reliable. One that meets their need to remain connected anywhere globally, has efficient and cost-effective logistics and processes, and ensures protection from ecosystem unpredictability in the future.
Cellular networks are the most scalable and accessible solution for IoT connectivity. But the approach to cellular connectivity for IoT deployments may need to be more than just buying a regular SIM with a consumer cellular plan.
There is a reason to look beyond traditional cellular packages when it comes to IoT devices. Many device makers thinking a simple data plan like they have for their phone is sufficient, quickly realize that it is unsustainable. Their devices may be water meters that only need to transmit 10 kilobytes of data once a month, so getting even a 1 gigabyte plan for each of them would be a definite overkill. Moreover, using traditional packages for IoT devices may lead to problems with managing and scaling deployments, extra costs, and overall connectivity inflexibility, especially in fleet management.
Connectivity requirements of IoT devices and consumer devices differ in terms of their design and features to cater to the specifics of their respective use cases. The market reflects it: IoT services offer the necessary features, flexibility, scalability, and management capabilities required for successful IoT deployments, while regular services are more suited for personal communication and data consumption on consumer devices.
There is a number of special connectivity requirements that IoT devices may have, and it’s important to take them into consideration when choosing a connectivity solution for your IoT deployment:
IoT devices quite often are deployed in harsh environments, so the SIMs used in them need to be durable and ready to work in extremely high or low temperatures, withstand vibrations, corrosion etc. Since the lifecycle of IoT device may be as long as 15 years, and oftentimes there is no option to change a SIM because the device is hard to access technically or due to remote location, SIMs must be able to last that long. All this is irrelevant for consumer devices, since it’s hard to think of an ordinary phone or a tablet that would have to deal with temperature shifts that range from – 40°C to 105°C or high humidity on a regular basis, and it’s easy to replace SIM in them if need be.
Network and Roaming Capabilities
In many use cases IoT devices need to be able to make use of multiple networks both in their host region and abroad, to ensure better coverage and roaming on the best available network. This makes it easier to deploy devices on a large scale and allows them to operate seamlessly across borders. With traditional cellular contracts devices usually connect to a single carrier network in their host region, which means they may suffer from poor coverage and are always at risk of an outage. Roaming in this case is either limited or roaming charges are high.
Data Usage and Data Packages
IoT devices may use data at different rates, depending on the device type and use case. Some devices send small amounts of data a few times in a certain period, like a smart meter transmitting data on water or electricity consumption. Others may need to gather and send a lot of data non-stop, like sensors in a connected vehicle. IoT service providers should offer flexible and customizable data plans to accommodate the diverse needs of IoT deployments. Such data plans provide options for low-power devices, intermittent connectivity, specialized protocols, and customized data limits. Pricing models are designed to be cost-effective for large-scale deployments. Not only are these contracts tailored based on the data use of certain devices, but they are also more flexible than regular cellular connectivity contracts in terms of pausing, cancelling or renewing.
Consumer devices typically use a lot of data with online streaming services and voice & video calls over the internet. That’s why connectivity offers for consumers contain data packages that are structured for personal data consumption, including browsing the internet, making calls and streaming media. These packages typically offer predefined plans with fixed data volume of data and network configurations.
Scaling in IoT requires an ability to cope with many connected devices and may need a specifically arranged geographical architecture to avoid latency issues or noncompliance with local regulations. Regular connectivity offering is not inherently designed to scale for large-scale deployments common in the IoT realm. It lacks features and management tools necessary to efficiently handle many devices spread across different locations and dealing with massive amounts of data traffic simultaneously.
Also critical for IoT deployments are advanced device management capabilities that allow to remotely provision, manage, and monitor IoT devices. That includes features like OTA updates, diagnostics, device configuration, and security management. SIMs can be activated and managed centrally and remotely, making it suitable for large-scale deployments of unmanned devices in any area. Although some of these capabilities are available in traditional connectivity offerings, the latter generally do not provide advanced device management features. They may lack functionalities like remote device provisioning, over-the-air (OTA) updates, and granular control over IoT device settings.
Visibility & Control
To make their IoT deployments successful, enterprises need to have full transparency of how much data is being used by each device, when and where. The ability to access statistics on data usage at any moment allows to closely monitor the way connectivity works and make necessary adjustments to business operations to optimize costs.
Webbing offers connectivity that provides all the necessary capabilities for IoT deployments. Our secured IoT network of 600+ mobile carriers across more than 190 countries and regions ensures superior, continuous data connectivity. Webbing’s distributed core network infrastructure with data centers on every continent enables quick scaling of IoT deployments of any scope and configuration. It also ensures low latency and compliance with local connectivity and data regulations requirements in deployed countries.
Our eSIM solution ensures failover connectivity with the ability of using multiple mobile carrier profiles, easily changing carriers at any time with zero integration, and an option to fall back from a failing profile to a different profile. Webbing’s eSIM can be provisioned remotely and is aligned with the GSMA SGP.32 IoT eSIM specification, which means it will be fully compatible with the new standard when it becomes ubiquitous in the next few years.
Our solution provides the ability to easily and securely connect any IoT devices. Webbing also offers a centralized way to manage eSIMs throughout their lifecycle via a portal. It allows for defining business rules that govern the automatic profile swap process, enabling devices to change the carrier independently in case of location change or connectivity loss, and provides visibility to profile usage and network events. This helps manage connected devices in bulks, easily scale global IoT deployments and monitor data usage of each device.
A flexible approach to data packages allows us to tailor our connectivity offering for every customer based on the type of IoT devices used and their data consumption needs as well as the locations where the devices are deployed, aiming at overall optimization of the total cost of operations for the client.
Reach out to [email protected] to learn more about Webbing’s solution.