What to consider when choosing IoT connectivity!

Connectiviteit

IoT connectivity ensures that your installations, devices and sensors communicate via your own mobile internet access. We use the M2M, LTE M and NB-IOT connectivity forms to achieve this. With our portfolio of IoT connectivity options, Thingsdata offers the right mobile data solution for every application. How do you choose the most suitable IoT connectivity solution for your specific application? In this article we explain which choices can be made.

How to choose the right IoT connectivity

In the orientation phase you initially look for the right connectivity form for the application, during the orientation you have to take a number of aspects into account in broad terms:

  • How much data will be consumed per simcard per month?
  • Where exactly is coverage needed?
  • In addition to DATA, is the SMS and VOICE functionality also required?
  • Is it a future proof choice?
  • Is the connectivity form compatible with the selected device?
  • What about security?
  • What can I expect from the sim management system?

Below is an explanation and we answer all aspects.

Connectivity types

What types of connectivity are there and what are the characteristics:

M2M

M2M communication enables remote monitoring and management of installations, equipment, and sensors with a data volume of 1 MB to 1000 GB per simcard per month. In order to communicate, the devices are provided with a secured M2M simcard. The data is then read out via 5/4/3/2G and routed to the cloud. With the simcards you can make business processes and services more efficient, save costs and create new business models.

LTE M

The LTE M network has been specially developed for IoT applications and is based on the reliable and secure 4G networks of the operators. LTE M data usage usually varies between 1 MB to 100 MB and the coverage is stronger than a 2G network and also has a deeper penetration rate in mainly buildings. LTE M is based on the worldwide 3GPP standard of the GSMA, which offers possibilities for roaming abroad. LTE M allows fast data transmission in an energy efficient way and is suitable for various applications that now work with 3G or 2G.

NB-IOT

NB-IOT has also been specially developed for IoT applications and is also based on the reliable and secure 4G networks of the operators. NB-IOT is suitable for extremely low data volumes from 500KB to 5MB. NB-IOT has the great advantage of a deeper penetration in not only buildings but also underground (number of meters below ground). Data can be sent quickly in an energy efficient way via NB-IOT, so that batteries of sensors last a very long time.

Operator choice

When choosing an operator, the roaming agreements that the operator (supplier) uses play a major role. Is it an extensive list with many roaming networks and network spectrums? What about the architecture? But the role that the operator assumes is also important, how does the operator deal with downtime and what is the quality of the overall service? Thingsdata has partnerships with multiple operators (suppliers), who help us shape various developments of the Internet of Things.

Below is a brief explanation of the various operators with which Thingsdata has a partnership:

KPN IOT

KPN IOT offers both M2M and LTE M in one Cisco sim management system. KPN IOT offers roaming on 500 networks worldwide in the Cisco sim management system. With this solution, our customers can connect IoT devices based on 4/3/2G and LTE M in almost all countries. KPN IOT is a very reliable supplier and provides a stable and high-quality service based on a high quality architecture. KPN IOT uses data bundles (pooled) as a subscription form with strong pricing, both in the EU and outside the EU. In the Netherlands, KPN IOT also supplies data bundles for very high data consumption, up to and including a 1000 GB data bundle.

TELE2 IOT

TELE2 IOT also offers both M2M and LTE M in the Cisco sim management system. TELE2 IOT also offers roaming on 500 networks worldwide, our customers can connect IoT devices based on 5/4/3/2G and LTE M with the TELE2 IOT solution in almost all countries. TELE2 IOT is a very reliable partner with a motivated support team available 24/7. A major advantage of TELE2 IOT is that they roam on multiple networks in the Netherlands (KPN, T-Mobile and Vodafone). TELE2 IOT uses all subscription forms with strong pricing in the EU, see paragraph below.

VODAFONE IOT

VODAFONE IOT provides worldwide IoT connectivity including M2M and LTE M, but also its own NB-IOT network. VODAFONE IOT has proven that they understand what digital transformation means and how we can use IoT together successfully. VODAFONE IOT has set up its entire architecture at a very high security level. Vodafone IOT uses data bundles (pooled) as a subscription form with strong pricing, mainly in all countries where Vodafone has a network.

SIM BLUE

SIM BLUE provides secure and reliable connectivity for your devices with worldwide coverage. The network is based on 4G networks and is futureproof for 5G. SIM BLUE is also very competitively priced and has an easy to use sim management system. SIM BLUE is mainly used for high data volume business cases.

What subscription types are there

Thingsdata has competitive rates in all countries around the world and offers different subscription options: data bundle (pooled) and pay as you go (unpooled). Plus, you can mix variants and have customizations made based on your business needs.

Below we explain the most common subscription types.

What is a data bundle pooled subscription?

A data bundle pooled subscription is a construction in which all active simcards with an equivalent data bundle amount are added together and form one pool. The pool is shareable between all active simcards. For example, all available data from the bundles of all active simcards is first consumed. To clarify: each simcard has a fixed price per month and will have access to a fixed number of MBs. The mutual use of more and less data is interchangeable (pooled).

What is a data bundle unpooled subscription?

A data bundle unpooled subscription is a construction in which an individual active simcard has a data bundle that cannot be shared.

What is a pay as you go subscription?

A pay as you go subscription is an individual subscription where you pay for what one active simcard uses in data per month. A fixed starting rate is applied per month and the data usage is charged per MB per month. To clarify: each simcard has a fixed price per month (monthly access fee) and a price per MB for data usage.

What is the actual data usage?

Does your IoT application have a low data consumption (500KB – 5GB) or a high data consumption (5GB >)? You should ask yourself this question if you are going to purchase a data subscription, because the amount of data consumption is a large factor in the choice of connectivity form.

For IoT solutions with low data consumption, you can think of, for example:

  • Remote reading of temperature, humidity, light intensity and CO2 values ​​by means of innovative sensors.
  • Tracking and tracing containers.
  • Monitoring parking spaces.

Suitable connectivity forms for IoT applications with low data consumption are: M2M, LTE M and NB-IOT.

For IoT solutions with high data consumption, you can think of, for example:

  • A 4G backup, so that stores of retail organizations can continue to work in the event of a failure of the fixed internet connection.
  • Consumption in the maritime sector, or in rural areas and at trade fairs & events.
  • Unlocking wireless surveillance cameras.
  • Guaranteeing internet in payment systems.
  • Temporary internet applications for offices where a lot of 4G and 5G data is used.

Suitable forms of connectivity for IoT applications with high data consumption are: M2M.

Countries, networks and network spectrum

It is important that you know in which countries the rollout is taking place and which networks and network spectrums are available here. Keep in mind that in many countries 2G and 3G have been phased out on the one hand and that LTE M or NB-IOT is not or not yet available on the other.

Your device has a cellular module on the printed circuit board that is suitable for a certain type of connectivity form or a combination of these. Based on these specifications, you will look for the correct connectivity form. The cellular module will be suitable for 4G, 3G, 2G, LTE M or NB-IOT or a combination of these. Analyze these specifications carefully before making a choice. Worldwide, 4G is available almost everywhere, but not always nationwide, while 3G and 2G are already being phased out in many countries. Regarding LPWAN (LTE M and NB-IOT), in many countries it is not yet available or limited and sometimes only one of the two has been implemented. On this website you can find the commercial launch of LPWAN networks: https://www.gsma.com/iot/deployment-map/.

Explanation of contractual conditions?

When Thingsdata and you as a customer enter into an agreement, this is recorded in an agreement. The contractual liability is then established, so that both parties can always find out what one can expect from each other. Thingsdata uses open and flexible contractual terms for most connectivity solutions. Clear and bright, without annoying obstacles.

What we can offer:

  • No activation costs. You never pay a fee per simcard at Thingsdata to activate it at the start.
  • No activation deadline. simcards can be stocked without them becoming administratively active at any time.
  • No minimum period active on the network. There is no obligation at Thingsdata that a simcard must be active for a minimum period of time.
  • No fixed term. We conclude an agreement based on maximum flexibility and there is no fixed term of 12, 24 or 36 months.
  • Flexibility in the sense of scaling down. You can deactivate and scale down simcards at any time.
  • No purchase obligation (no MoQ). For example, you can order one simcard from us, there is no obligation that you have to order 100 or 250 immediately. You are completely free to order the amount you need.
  • No data consumption on a simcard, so no costs. With some solutions we do not charge any costs if there is no data usage in an entire calendar month.
  • The agreement can be adjusted per month (also to a different subscription form).

Sim management system

IoT applications often involve monitoring and managing a few tens to thousands of simcards. A sim management system gives you a grip on the continuity of the mobile internet access of your simcards on the one hand, and on the data consumption on the other. Via a sim management system you can monitor and manage all simcards easily and in real time. You also have a direct overview of all characteristics that are linked to an individual simcard and you can fully automate many processes. What are important reasons for choosing a certain sim management system?

You can use the following:

  • The amount of information that you have access to?
  • How many freely customizable fields are available?
  • Is there near real time insight?
  • What is the level of general security and what are the security applications?
  • Can processes be automated (warning at certain amount of data usage, deactivation at IMEI change)?
  • Is there the possibility to troubleshoot yourself when something is wrong?
  • Is it possible to subdivide simcards into multiple accounts (allocate costs per location or per end customer)

Choice of simcard format

Thingsdata offers different sizes of simcards. The capabilities of each simcard (form factor) are the same, but they each have different dimensions, making them suitable for specific types of devices.

Form Factors:

  • 2FF (Mini): 25mm x 15mm x 0.76mm
  • 3FF (Micro): 15mm x 12mm x 0.76mm
  • 4FF (Nano): 12.3mm × 8.8mm × 0.67mm
  • 3:1 simcard (2FF, 3FF and 4FF in one)
  • MFF2 (embedded): 5mm x 6mm x 1mm

An MFF2 embedded simcard is a vacuum sealed simcard that can be soldered directly to the circuit board of your device. An MFF2 simcard has a higher reliability and a longer lifespan than a standard model.

Virtual operator profile

Remote Sim Provisioning is a term you may not have heard of. It is often referred to as eSIM. What is it? RSP is remote operator switching. An organization with an RSP based IoT implementation has the ability to assign different virtual operator profiles to the simcards in the field. Any available virtual operator profile can be linked. When using these simcards, other virtual operator profiles can be switched on and off in addition to the default operator profile. The RSP technology thus eliminates the costly installation work required to physically exchange a simcard.

IOT security

It is crucial that you ensure that all parts of your solution are secured. If a single person with bad intentions penetrates an IoT device, it can cause a chain reaction and the entire system can be sabotaged.

Thingsdata uses the following IoT security options:

  • Whitelisting, all you need to do is approve IP addresses or FQDNs and add them to an APN access list.
  • IMEI lock, we can lock the simcards based on the IMEI number of your device and this prevents data usage in an unauthorized device.
  • APN stands for Access Point Name and is an access point for a device that connects to the network (Internet). When you ensure that a device connects to a private APN, you ensure that the device registers on its own secure access point. Thingsdata offers both standard and private APNs.
  • The IP-SEC VPN + private APN constructions of Thingsdata are usually structured via an operator, so that the IoT data is not transported over the public internet, but over a closed network (closed internet environment) that is operated by the operator. You have end to end control over all components of the network.
  • Firewall, securing the company network with unprecedented performance and simplicity in management by means of a firewall.

Of course there are measures that only you can take, but a basic level of security must be in place.

What does an SLA mean?

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an agreement between Thingsdata and you as a customer. It is a comprehensive quality assurance service. The SLA is a stand by service from Thingsdata where you as a customer are given the opportunity to report a question, malfunction or change via 085-0443590 and support@thingsdata.nl. The support employee on duty will then process the report. Based on the agreed SLA conditions, a report will follow of the work performed and any follow-up steps to be taken.

At Thingsdata you can choose from the following options:

  • Basic SLA including best effort
  • Advanced SLA including 5×8 support
  • Premium SLA including 7×4 support
  • Extended SLA including 24×7 support

You have just read in this article that Thingsdata uses a wide range of options for IoT connectivity. With so many different options, it is difficult to communicate specifically about pricing, but are you curious about the pricing for your business case and do you want a customized quote? Please contact us via telephone number 085-0443500 or by email to info@thingsdata.nl.