What is IoT connectivity and how to choose the best option
We use the term IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity to refer to the different methods used to connect IoT devices. These include applications, sensors, trackers, gateways, and network routers. In the IoT industry, however, referring to IoT connectivity describes the specific network of solutions that can enable this type of connectivity. It can be wifi, mobile or LPWAN, to name a few. When choosing the best IoT connectivity option for you or your business, you can consider three aspects: bandwidth capacity (speed), coverage range, and power consumption. It can be difficult to find an option that prioritizes these three factors, so it is important to understand what your IoT requirements are before choosing a specific solution.
Bandwidth, range and power consumption: what to prioritize
The three aspects that we refer to when we analyze a good IoT network are:
• Energy consumption. Many IoT devices are battery powered and not wired. Remember this when selecting a network, because if you are looking for a long duration, what you do not want is that it consumes too much energy.
• Coverage range. If your devices cover considerable distances, when choosing a specific network you will have to pay attention to its coverage.
• Bandwidth. Some IoT devices can consume large amounts of data. You will have to choose a network that can receive and process the data you need.
Let’s take the use of Wi-Fi as an example: when used as an IoT network, it works well for fixed devices that do not require a wide range of coverage. Wi-Fi connectivity is quite limited in its parameters. If you are looking to connect devices that require a more flexible coverage range, it is best to look for an alternative to Wi-Fi.
Other factors to consider:
In addition, it is important that you value the following aspects when choosing the IoT connectivity option that best suits your needs:
• Cost. It seems obvious, but IoT connectivity solutions can vary greatly in price. It is also important to consider setup prices and subsequent operational costs.
• Your current system. It is worth checking if the system you are working with supports IoT connectivity. In some cases it can be integrated very easily, saving you a considerable amount of time and money.
• Scalability. IoT connectivity is about the ability to scale and position your business for whatever comes in the future; for this, some solutions (such as cable connectivity) are more suitable than others. Keep your growth plans in mind when choosing an IoT connectivity solution.
• Place of implementation. Make sure you do a full audit of your location and check if it is possible to work with the connectivity solution you have selected. For example, in a place where there is a lot of radio interference or obstacles (walls, other buildings, etc.), certain options may not work very well.
Below we have listed the main competitors in connecting IoT devices. We refer to its pros and cons to help you select the one that best suits your needs.
Cellular IoT Connectivity
Cellular connectivity, or satellite connection, is typically used when we talk about IoT M2M (machine to machine) connectivity. It is the same type of connectivity that we use to connect our smartphones and tablets, and it requires a transmission tower for its operation, generally in a range of 16 to 24 km.
• It has the widest range. If you are within range of a cell tower (which is most of the time), you can connect to any person or object globally.
• It is a trusted IoT connectivity solution. Contrary to Wi-Fi, there are rarely interruptions and it is available everywhere.
• Easy to use. It is highly compatible; you just need an eSIM IoT or a traditional SIM to connect.
• Compared to other alternatives, its energy consumption is relatively high.
• In general, your providers can be expensive; Therefore, it is essential to compare different alternatives and make sure that you get the best deal based on your needs.
Summary: If you want broad coverage, with the opportunity to easily scale your IoT offering, this is a good option. And Truphone for Things is a very good place to start. We offer effective global IoT connectivity and IoT SIM cards in more than 100 global destinations.
When it comes to connecting IoT devices, Wi-Fi can work well for small devices and for those with a certain range of coverage. As a network, it has a fairly high consumption, but less than the cellular alternative, and is limited in terms of its coverage parameter.
That said, a Wi-Fi network is trustworthy and facilitates good IoT connectivity when it’s up and running. In fact, the use of Wi-Fi as an IoT network has already taken off; you just have to think about how many people use it with Alexa and Google Nest.
Summary: If you have specific or limited parameters on which you want your IoT network to work, Wi-Fi can be a good option. However, just like your Wi-Fi network at home, you may experience outages from time to time. If what you need is to connect an IoT device that needs to be active 24/7/365 (for example, health devices, smart locks, etc.), you may prefer to use cellular connectivity.
LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) is relatively new in the IoT network space, but it offers a lot in terms of its coverage and low power consumption. The LPWAN achieves this combination by using small, inexpensive batteries to power its connectivity.
Various types of LPWAN connection have been created for different purposes. For example:
• LTE-M (a tailored LTE connection, which is designed for low power consumption)
• NB-IoT (NarrowBand IoT)
Summary: While the LPWAN network works well for specific purposes, it is only recommended for those who do not need high bandwidth, since it is designed to work with small amounts of data at a low price.
Most of us are familiar with what Bluetooth is, because we’ve been using it on our phones for a decade now. Bluetooth makes it easy for users to send data over short distances using wireless technology. In recent years, it has drastically improved in terms of energy consumption. Before, it could drain a battery in a short time, but today’s Bluetooth connection works with a low-power model. Bluetooth has a very competitive bandwidth of 2Mbps, but has a low range capability of less than 10 meters.
Summary: Bluetooth connectivity is a good option if you need to send information over a short distance, with low to medium bandwidth.
Having reviewed the pros and cons, in most cases when it comes to connecting your IoT offering, what provides the best experience is cellular connectivity. This offers a good range of bandwidth and the ability to scale. And all this at a relatively low cost.
At Truphone we are specialists in designing bespoke IoT data plans to make sure you have what you need. Our experts are always available to advise you. Get in touch today.