Why should I choose cellular connectivity for my IoT solution?
When choosing connectivity for your IoT solution, you are faced with many options. In addition to Cellular - WiFi, Bluetooth, Sigfox and LoRa are some of the most popular technologies (and there are many more!). Cellular connectivity holds some great advantages:
Cellular networks are operated under very strict security requirements when it comes to stability, privacy and threat response. In comparison to for example LoRa or WiFi you will not have to worry about operating and securing the network you connect your devices to. This is what telecom operators such as Telenor have done for years, and it is one of our most important areas of expertise. For simple, low-power devices there is additional functionality in the network to send your data securely without it reaching the open internet at all.
Ease of installation
With cellular connectivity you can provision everything straight out of the factory and have your devices installed wherever you like without thinking about connecting it to a local network or any other integrations or limitations.
Freedom to move and roam
With cellular connectivity you have the freedom to move around and even roam to other countries. For use-cases such as tracking this is essential. The possibility to move around also give you the opportunity to re-use devices at different locations without doing any new provisioning between places.
What kind of SIM card and subscription should I use?
The SIM card size and form-factor are irrelevant to the connectivity you receive. It is however very important that SIM cards fit with your hardware devices. Some devices have solderable, integrated SIMs or eSIMs (read more), but some also have the traditional SIM card slot that you are used to from your mobile phone. It is important for you to choose the right SIM for your use case
- 1FF – Full size SIM (Not much used any longer)
- 2FF – Mini-SIM
- 3FF – Micro-SIM
- 4FF – Nano-SIM
The above are all removable SIMs, just as you would use for your phone. In some cases it is possible to order an "MFF" (Multi Form Factor) which includes all formats in a single card which you break out.
For situations where reliability in harsh environments is important, or you are concerned with tampering, consider the MFF2 format which is a solderable SIM.
Although they look simillar and use the same technologies, IoT SIMs differ greatly from the mobile versions you are familliar with. They offer features and functions tailored for IoT solutions in addition to network access and data consumption limits. The features will vary from operator to operator, from country to country and even differ when roaming.
At a basic level, some things to consider:
- The coverage you require
- Data consumption needs
- Functionality (data, sms, voice etc)
- Radio Access Type (balancing speed/badwidth, cost and power consumption)
- 2G (GSM - now sunsetting)
- 3G (UMTS - also sunsetting)
- 4G (LTE)
- LPWAN (LTEm/NB-IoT)
For more information and help, consult the following links for your local Telenor operator and contact them to discuss your needs.
- Denmark: https://www.telenor.dk/erhverv/internet-of-things/iot-abonnement/
- Sweden: https://telenor.se/foretag/iot/
- Finland: https://www.dna.fi/yrityksille/iot/iot-connect
- Norway: https://www.telenor.no/bedrift/iot/abonnement/
- Globally: https://www.telenorconnexion.com/offering/managed-connectivity/
What Cellular networks are used for IoT?
Traditionally, many legacy machine to machine (M2M) communication have utilized the 2G (GSM) or 3G (UMTS) networks alongside regular mobile phones. On 4G (LTE) and 5G however, a part of the standards are the specialised cellular IoT networks NB-IoT and LTE-M.
NB-IoT and LTE-M are cellular low-power wide area (LPWA) networks specialised for IoT use cases that don’t require the bandwidth many consumer products do. They are built on LTE (4G) technology and will be continued onto the fifth generation (5G) cellular network.
NB-IoT is specially tailored for use cases where battery life and wide area coverage is crucial. It is designed for devices that send small amounts of data and can enter deep sleep cycles between communication windows. A combination of features between the device communication modules and functionality in the network makes for very advanced battery saving that enable battery-powered devices to live for as long as 10-15 years.
LTE-M allows for higher throughput than NB-IoT, while still enabling power saving functionality and enhanced coverage. The LTE-M network also allows for voice over LTE (VoLTE), which makes it ideal for use cases where you need to send audio payloads.
When talking about 5G for IoT, we are often highlighting functionality such as edge computing and private cellular networks through network slicing. This will enable high-throughput and low-latency use cases such as self-driving cars and real-time remote controlling without compromising on security.
What are the requirements of my IoT device to use these networks?
To be able to connect to the cellular IoT networks, your device has to have a communication module that supports the networks and radio frequencies they are deployed on. Cellular communication modules are separated into categories according to their supported standards. The categories for LTE networks are as follows:
- NB-IoT network: Cat-NB1 and Cat-NB2
- LTE-M network: Cat-M1 and Cat-M2
- LTE network: Cat-1,2,3,…
When sourcing or building a cellular IoT device you also have to make sure it supports the right frequency bands. It is common that the LPWA networks are deployed on the 700-900 MHz frequencies, but we are also starting to see utilization of the 1200 and 1600 MHz bands as countries are sunsetting the 3G network and reutilizing the spectrum.