Cellular IoT network refers to the practice of using cellular connectivity to connect IoT devices to the internet while enabling these devices to perform M2M (Machine to Machine) connection between each other. Meaning, these devices can directly transmit and receive data between themselves without any intermediaries (i.e. servers).
At the moment, cellular IoT connectivity remains the most popular IoT connection option due to several key advantages including:
- Wide and reliable coverage, capable of realizing global IoT connectivity
- High bandwidth capabilities, especially with LTE and 5G
- Simplifying large-scale IoT deployments. Cellular towers are already everywhere, so IoT network owners don’t have to invest in new infrastructures
- Ease of use. Works almost instantly
- More secure connections compared to other shared networks
- Reliable both indoor and outdoor
Cellular coverage is available virtually everywhere, and thus enterprises willing to deploy their IoT projects can simply connect to these networks to get reliable connections.
Cellular IoT Network At a Glance
Cellular connectivity is just one of so many different IoT connectivity options available at the moment.
Different IoT projects vary in their technical requirements based on three key factors:
- Coverage area
- Bandwidth capability
- Energy consumption
A theoretically perfect IoT connectivity solution that can fit all IoT projects’ needs should offer a global coverage area, unlimited bandwidth, and very low energy consumption, but as we know such technology hadn’t existed yet, at least at the moment.
Thus, all IoT connectivity solutions we have today always have at least one trade-off, and in the case of a cellular IoT network, the trade-off is energy consumption. Cellular networks consume a lot of power to transmit a high amount of data over a great range. As most of us are familiar with our smartphones, we know how our smartphones can stream videos from halfway across the world, but we have to charge the phone regularly.
However, although the cellular IoT network does have its ‘weakness’ in the form of power consumption, the benefits it offers far outweigh this disadvantage, as we will discuss below.
The Advantage of Cellular IoT Network
Cellular IoT network offers several key advantages that make them so popular in IoT deployments, especially regarding coverage, data security, and cost-efficiency.
1. Global Coverage
For large-scale IoT deployments that span across countries, cellular IoT connectivity is widely regarded as the most cost-effective and reliable connectivity option.
At the moment, cellular IoT is one of the two (along with satellite) options that can allow global connectivity. However, even then cellular has one distinct advantage over satellites: cellular towers are already everywhere, but satellites are still fairly limited.
Thus, when using a cellular IoT network, you don’t need to build new infrastructure for every new deployment. If, for example, you deploy an IoT device in a new country, if you have the right data plan you can easily use the service of a network carrier that covers this new country. Truphone for Things data plans, for example, offer coverage in more than 150 countries, so you can easily switch between the networks in different countries easily.
With eSIM technology, we can also eliminate the need of replacing SIM cards with a new one every time we switch between networks.
2. Easy and Secure Provisioning
Cellular networks, as we know, use SIM to securely and reliably authenticate devices.
This allows easy and secure provisioning for both new and existing IoT devices to ensure secure connectivity. Hackers can, for example, easily spoof IP addresses in IoT Wi-Fi or intercept Bluetooth connection, but it’s impossible to spoof a subscriber identity in a SIM card.
The eSIM technology also allows Remote SIM Provisioning, enabling users the ability to remotely bootstrap devices into the IoT network and switch between carriers remotely via an IoT management software.
3. Cost Efficiency
As discussed, a key advantage of using cellular connectivity is the fact that cellular is already everywhere. So, we don’t have to build a new infrastructure anytime we’d like to expand the IoT deployment.
Also, while we have to pay incurring charges for the IoT data plan, they are typically cost-effective when compared to solutions like a satellite.
In short, the cellular IoT network is cost-effective both in initial investments and future scalability.
4. Data Security and Integrity
Cellular connectivity is still among the most secure connectivity solutions when compared to other options like Wi-Fi.
Data security is a very important factor to consider, since an IoT network may circulate a huge amount of sensitive and/or regulated data among different devices, which are common targets for hackers and cybercriminals.
The cellular IoT network offers reliable end-to-end encryption, keeping your devices separate from your end-users other online devices and offering several unique advantages in data security:
- IoT network owners and manufacturers can remotely access the IoT devices via VPN without exposing connection publicly
- Since the IoT devices don’t share the network with end user’s devices, the devices won’t be compromised, for example when a user’s device has been infected by malware
- SIM technology is among the most secure authentication methods that are very hard to spoof
- Cellular IoT networks offer reliable and secure firewalls that can limit a device’s connectivity only when necessary
- With an IoT management platform, IoT operators can easily monitor activity from each interconnected device to identify risks and anomalies
The cellular IoT network offers several unique advantages especially for large-scale IoT deployments that also require high bandwidth capabilities.
If your IoT devices require international or global coverage and a high data transfer rate, then the cellular IoT network may be your most ideal pick to power your IoT deployment’s connection.
Leave a Reply