Accelerating the
Industrial Internet of Things

A fresh approach to remote IoT Connectivity

Published on 12/28/2016 | Technology

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Nina Pineda

Consultant at Podsystem M2M

IoT GUIDE

The IoT is everywhere

When we think of the IoT, we often think of the more consumer-focused smart home applications, connected fridges, alarm systems, etc. But many IoT applications are located much further afield.

There are remote applications, which include rural areas (e.g. agriculture, energy, environment), roaming applications (e.g. connected cars) and mission critical/real-time applications (e.g. Industrial IoT and healthcare).

Cellular connectivity offers many advantages

For remote, roaming and mission critical applications, cellular connectivity offers many advantages, due to the global nature of cellular infrastructure and defined standards for 2G, 3G and 4G. Couple with multi-network and roaming capability, cellular connectivity allows for rapid throughput of data for real time applications. In future, 3GPP standards (Cat1, Cat M, NB-IoT) will offer optimized, lower cost connectivity for IoT.

Still, networks today are not designed to support the growth in traffic forecasted for the IoT.

Take connected cars for instance: it is growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 45% - 10 times as fast as the overall car market. BI Intelligence estimated that 92 million cars will be shipped globally by 2020, 75% of which will be built with internet-connection hardware. Nonetheless, by 2024 in certain network cell sites, Machina Research predicts a data traffic uplift of 97% due to large amounts of connected cars. These peaks will have obvious implications for QoS.

The need for future-proof connectivity

We will experience an explosive growth in IoT apps, coupled with many different connectivity options and varying levels of standardization. Yet, there is no one option that currently provides the technology needed to scale to the massive opportunity offered by the IoT. Therefore, the way forward is clear: we need NEW TECHNOLOGY, NEW INFRASTRUCTURE.

Future-proof connectivity should enable remote control and back-up whereas cellular applications should avoid dependency on any one connectivity provider.

Multi-IMSI will result in multiple independent core networks on the same SIM. Combined with an open application on the SIM that swaps between core networks automatically in the event of a lost connection, we can avoid dependency on one network infrastructure and provide a "No Single Point of Failure" solution.

To achieve future proofs connectivity through remote adaptations of the SIM's profile, we can also amalgamate platforms that enable Over The Air (OTA) updates to the SIM (remote control roaming profile) and new IMSIs that can be added OTA to respond to changing market conditions.

 

Additional device design features

Future-proof connectivity requires additional device design features, as follows:

1. Device design: Remote and roaming devices are difficult to troubleshoot/maintain, hence they must be designed to allow remote updates to avoid costly downtime

2. Firmware: Allow interaction with different types of cellular connectivity via the SIM card (multi-network, multi-IMSI)

3. STK: Devices should include STK (SIM Application Toolkit) and the ability to use multi-IMSI SIMs and receive OTA messages for remote configuration.

4. Hardware: The printed circuit board design should be compatible with 3G and 4G modems ven if the current requirement is only for a 2G modem.

5. Independence: Since devices cannot be easily accessed and re-configured, it is imperative for them to avoid dependence on any one network. Connectivity should be remotely controlled and access to multple independent operators in paramount.

6. Configuration: To minimize connectivity costs, session lengths must be optimized to allow data billing increments.

7. Compatibility: The modem should be compatible with different connectivity options.

8. Embedded devices: Must accept the correct AT commands OTA to ensure that SIMs can be updated when market conditions change.

Connectivity partners that can provide the best options for future-proofing

The most important aspect is the independent of the provider to avoid reliance on any one network. Also, a specialist connectivity provider in the M2M/IoT space can negotiate agreements with individual networks around the world.

In case of technical or commercial issues, layering of networks to provide redundancy and back-up must be present to prevent costly downtime.

Last but not least, independent MVNOs can now add their own virtual infrastructure, software and platforms on top of the network connectivity, thus leading to more control and future proofing.

 

This report was originally published by Podsystem M2M and can be found here.

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