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There are a huge number of IoT devices, often roaming across countries and continents, that are located outside urban areas.
This poses significant challenges to both the design and connectivity of the device, the biggest concern being that there is no room for error, as troubleshooting and maintenance of remote and roaming devices is complicated and costly.
As part of the Internet of Things North America conference in Chicago Illinois (April 13th – 14th 2016), Podsystem Inc. CEO Sam Colley presented ‘A Fresh Approach to Remote IoT Connectivity’ at 11:30 on April 14th.
Sam addressed the challenges faced by remote IoT applications developers and discussed ways of overcoming them.
His presentation is centered around an infographic which outlines the main issues involved in developing remote IoT applications and explains how to make the correct choices in terms of device design, connectivity and future proofing to prolong the lifespan of the application and avoid costly mistakes.
A fresh approach to remote IoT Connectivity by Podsystem
A fresh approach
to remote IoT Connectivity
Analysis of data
New ways to
roll out of
to the internet
27.8 - 50 billion
will be spent on IoT
solutions over the
next 5 years
• We all know that the IoT is growing at a phenomenal rate. Firstly let’s recap the main drivers
and market conditions that have converged to cause this growth.
• Although the phrase Internet of Things has only existed since around 1999, the potential for the
growth in connected devices has always been there, since the beginnings of TCP/IP in 1974.
• As an M2M company which has been in the space since before these terms were widely used,
we have seen and experienced first hand how these connected devices have developed and
the drivers that have made the Internet of Things a reality.
• In the past, M2M applications existed for specific requirements, for example, monitoring of
energy applications such as wind turbines, but the high cost of the hardware and challenge of
analysing the data produced made widespread roll out difficult.
• In the present: One of the main market conditions that has eliminated the barriers to the
growth of the IoT has been the rapid decrease in the cost of sensors, connectivity, bandwidth
and processing. This, combined with new ways to analyse the data mean that the roll out of
IoT applications has begun on a massive scale. This opportunity covers a huge variety of
applications in different sectors, including connected homes, connected cities, connected
industry, connected cars and wearables.
• In the future: We are now forecasting huge growth in the number of connected devices,
with 328 million devices being connected to the internet each month. Depending on which
forecasts you use, there will be between 27.8 and 50 billion units connected by 2020. This
represents a huge business opportunity with forecasts of nearly $6 trillion to be spent on IoT
solutions over the next five years.
IoT past, present and future
Drivers and growth markets
1 2 3
Top IoT solutions adopters
• Businesses will be the top adopter of IoT solutions. They see three ways the IoT can improve
their bottom line by 1) lowering operating costs; 2) increasing productivity; and 3) expanding
to new markets or developing new product offerings.
• The second-largest adopters of IoT ecosystems are governments. The main benefits they
see from adoption of IoT solutions are 1) increased productivity, 2) decreased costs, and 3)
improving their citizens’ quality of life.
• Although most of the hype around the IoT is focused on consumer devices, such as those
used in a smart home, the likelihood is that consumers will lag behind businesses and
governments in IoT adoption. The benefits from a consumer point of view and the return on
their investment from these devices is less clear. Even so, they will purchase a massive
number of devices and invest a significant amount of money in IoT ecosystems.
• This means that despite what most people think about when the IoT is mentioned, (for
example smart fridges and wearable devices), many IoT applications will actually be located
much further afield and many will be mission critical, roaming or real time, for example
connected cars (which is one of the fastest growing sectors in the IoT), industrial
applications, and applications in the agricultural and logistics sectors. It is the connectivity
challenges associated with these remote, roaming and mission critical applications that are
covered in this presentation.
Drivers and growth markets
When we think of the IoT,
we often think of the more
consumer focused smart
alarm systems etc.
But many IoT applications
are located much further
(e.g. agriculture, energy,
(e.g. connected cars,
one of the fastest
growing sectors in
Mission critical and
(e.g. Industrial IoT
Very remote such as
at sea or developing
countries with no
Cellular (GSM, GPRS,
Also 3GPP (Cat 1, Cat 0,
Cat M, NB-IoT)
Mission critical such as
Industrial IoT, healthcare,
Roaming real-time such
as Connected Car
Neul, Nwave, UNB
e.g. Sigfox, Weightless etc.)
Utilities, smart cities,
smart buildings, consumer,
logistics and some
The IoT is everywhere...
• With so many different connectivity options for developers of IoT solutions, and new
standards being released all the time, how can developers decide on the best option for
their specific application and one which will allow longevity of the device?
• The type of application is an obvious place to start, since some technologies are more
suited to near range applications like Smart homes (for example Bluetooth, WiFi and
Zigbee) whilst others are much more suited to remote or roaming applications (such as
cellular and satellite).
• So a simplistic way to look at this would be short range vs long range. Cost, power and
range are the key characteristics that need to be considered for any IoT application, and
generally speaking, short range technologies tend to be low cost and low power while long
range tend to have higher associated costs and higher power. But what we are seeing as
the market develops are many IoT applications that require a combination of the two (low
power, low cost and long range) which has led to a whole range of new technologies being
• On the other hand, LPWAN has emerged as an option for applications which are power
sensitive and require low data throughput and there are a whole host of emerging
technologies and standards in this segment including Sigfox, Weightless-W (first
introduced by Neul to operate in TV white space spectrum) has since evolved into
Weightless-P, LoRa and RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access).
• Since no two IoT applications are the same, when considering these technologies it is not
so much a question of which will prevail, but which is best suited to which application.
The IoT is everywhere…
Bluetooth beacons Low application throughput
No power requirement
Global coverage, application
Higher reliability for mission critical
CAT 1 and CAT 0 LTE for low cost,
and ultimately NB-IoT high range
coverage “black spots”
Low data throughput
Less reliability for mission
critical and real-time applications
Breadth of coverage even
in areas with limited infrastructure
e.g. at sea or in developing
Price and interference due
to weather conditions
IoT frameworks map higher-level
protocols, stable service for SLAs,
mobile backhaul, security
Limited range, devices don’t work
until they have a method of
communication with the network
• With so many different connectivity options for developers of IoT solutions, and new standards being
released all the time, how can developers decide on the best option for their specific application and
one which will allow longevity of the device?
• Each has its advantages and disadvantages, it is a question of evaluating the best option for the type
• Factors to consider: Range - are you deploying to a single office floor or an entire city? Data Rate - how
much bandwidth do you require? How often does your data change? Power - is your sensor running
on mains or battery? Frequency - have you considered channel blocking and signal interference?
Security - will your sensors be supporting mission critical applications?
•Near Range: There are a plethora of connectivity options for near-range applications such
as smart homes or smart cities. However some of these applications do require the increased
coverage offered by cellular (e.g. traffic light systems). Within smart cities, cellular is also a good
option due to the existing telecoms infrastructure which has been designed for consumer
subscriptions, e.g. there is an increased density of cell towers in these areas.
•Mid Range: LPWA networks will bridge the gap between the near-range applications and
the remote and roaming applications cellular and satellite can support. LPWA is a complement
to existing cellular applications, and is ideal for those with low data throughput requirements
and the need for no/low power.
•Long Range: For remote and roaming applications, especially those that require real-time
or mission critical data, cellular and satellite are really the only options. Cellular is the only
technology that can provide the coverage and throughput required for rural mission critical
applications. Throughput for 4G LTE-Advanced tops out at about 1 Gb/s, while 5G promises 10 Gb/s.
Cellular connectivity offers many advantages for remote,
roaming and mission critical applications
1- Global nature of cellular infrastructure
2- Defined standards for 2G, 3G, 4G
3- Multi-Network and roaming capability
4- Rapid throughput of data for real
5- Future 3GPP standards (Cat 1,
Cat M, NB-IoT) will offer optimized,
lower cost connectivity for IoT
Networks are not
to support the
growth in traffic
• Of all the IoT connectivity options currently on offer, cellular is one of the most versatile, in cities
the proliferation of cell towers makes it a good option for Smart City applications and this
infrastructure extends globally to support roaming and remote applications.
• Within the current jumble of standards, cellular offers clear and defined standards for 2G, 3G and
4G. The 3GPP standard will create an optimized, more cost effective technology for IoT.
• The multi-network capabilities offered by many cellular providers and the ability of the SIM card to
roam across countries and continents makes it an ideal solution for roaming applications such as
logistics and connected cars where providing a continuous connection with high throughput is
• High throughput of data is also essential for many real time and mission critical applications, such
as industrial and remote healthcare where the need to receive and analyse the data
immediately is paramount and reliability of the connection is key.
• It is this reliability for mission critical applications that needs to be addressed.
• Currently, networks are not designed to support IoT applications. Cellular infrastructure was
originally designed with consumer applications in min.
• Now we need to look at how this scenario needs to change for cellular to support the massive
growth of the IoT .
Advantages of cellular connectivity for remote
BI Intelligence estimates
that 92 million cars
shipped globally in 2020
Growing at a five-year compound
annual growth rate of 45% —
10 times as fast as
the overall car market.
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 have obvious implications for
Cell A Cell B Cell C Cell D
• An example is the connected cars market, one of the fastest growing IoT markets.
• Machina Research predicts that by 2024 connected cars could cause a 97% uplift in traffic at
certain cell sites during peak hours.
• These peaks in traffic have obvious implications for QoS. Network resource management is
not based on the total volume of traffic, it is based on demand on particular cell sites during
peak times of traffic use.
• High throughput of data is also essential for many real time and mission critical applications,
such as industrial and remote healthcare where the need to receive and analyse the data
immediately is paramount and reliability of the connection is key.
• If IoT devices regularly generate spikes in usage in a particular location which cannot be
met, there are implications for customer satisfaction, and even the risk of non-compliance
with service level agreements (SLAs).
• Because of the nature of remote and roaming IoT applications, spikes will most likely be
caused in areas where the existing infrastructure has not been designed to cope with the
level of data traffic predicted (i.e. there is less density of cell towers) .
• Even in densely populated areas, we all know that cellular networks cannot guarantee
uptime 100% of the time. Outages can be caused by technical faults on the network, or
market conditions can change (e.g. roaming agreements or pricing) which can affect the
connectivity of devices in the long term.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Living and Working
In total Machina Research forecast
that there will be 29 billion M2M
connections by 2024, up from
4.5 billion in 2014.
Global cellular M2M
• Machina Research has forecast the growth in cellular connections to 2024.
• Although when compared to consumer connections and traffic, M2M accounts for a
relatively low percentage of connections (19%) and traffic (4%), it is not the volume of traffic
generated but the behavior of IoT devices that will put pressure on the existing
• From this graphic we can see that connected cars will form a large portion of this growth
which has big implications for network pressure.
Growth in cellular connections
Networks have traditionally been designed to manage mobile traffic from
consumer devices. IoT devices put very different demands on the network
in rural areas create
in areas with less
Devices connect on a
Devices use more
data less frequently.
Mission critical IoT
greater demand for
more robust systems
with lower latency.
IoT devices generate
traffic with different
Often small, regular
data use (e.g. a network ping).
Devices are generally
located in populated
areas (cities, towns etc.)
Most cell towers are
located in these areas.
Consumer devices IoT devices
Consumer and IoT device behavior
• Although IoT devices may not necessarily generate huge volumes of data, these devices
have their own particular demands. IoT devices behave very differently to consumer devices.
• Networks have traditionally been built to manage mobile traffic from consumer devices. IoT
devices mean more distributed deployments. Agricultural applications, for instance, will create
clusters of additional demand in previously lightly-covered rural areas.
• Compared to consumer devices which will accept connection on a best-effort basis, many
IoT applications are mission-critical, e.g. life-critical healthcare applications. Mission-critical
applications have the potential for carrying a substantial ARPU, making them appealing to
• In IoT applications, real-time feedback is required, providing a greater demand for more robust
systems with lower latency.
• Mobile networks have been provisioned to cope with patterns generated by consumer
devices. IoT devices generate traffic with many alternative patterns. In a lot of cases the
device is simply sending a network ping or is reporting simple data on a regular basis. In both
cases, the signalling overhead associated with the communication is substantial, given the
very low volume of data being sent.
Differences in the way consumer and
IoT devices connect
Where do we go from here?
in IoT apps
Many different connectivity options,
varying levels of standardization
No one option currently provides the technology needed
to scale to the massive opportunity offered by the IoT
NEW TECHNOLOGY, NEW INFRASTRUCTURE
Where do we go from here?
The need for future-proof connectivity...
core networks on the
Open application on
the SIM to swap
if connection is lost
on one network
provides a “No Single
Point of Failure” solution
Platform to enable
Over The Air updates
to the SIM, remotely
controls the roaming
New IMSIs can be
added OTA to respond
to changing market
connectivity as the
profile of the SIM can
be adapted remotely
on any one
In the current market, how do I design my devices
for long term deployment, especially for mission
critical and remote applications?
• To summarise what we have discussed so far:
• There will be huge growth in IoT apps over the next 10 years.
• Currently there are many different connectivity options, with varying
levels of standardisation.
• No one option currently provides the technology needed to scale to
the massive opportunity offered by the IoT.
Where do we go from here?
• The connectivity needs to be as open as possible to enable remote control and back-up.
• Cellular applications should avoid dependency on any one connectivity provider:
• Multi-IMSI: Multiple independent core networks on the same SIM.
• Open application on the SIM to swap between core networks automatically if connection is lost.
• Avoids dependency on one network infrastructure and provides a “No Single Point of Failure”
• Platform to enable Over The Air updates to the SIM, remotely controls the roaming profile.
• New IMSIs can be added OTA to respond to changing market conditions (pricing, roaming
• Future proofs connectivity as the profile of the SIM can be adapted remotely.
This leads to a major challenge for IoT developers: In the current market, how do
I design my devices to be future-proof, especially for mission critical and remote
Future-proof connectivity requires additional
device design features...
Remote and roaming devices
are difficult to troubleshoot or
They must be designed to allow
remote updates to avoid costly
truck rolls and downtime.
Allow interaction with different
types of cellular connectivity via
the SIM card (multi-network,
Devices should include
an STK (SIM Application
Toolkit) and ability to use
multi-IMSI SIMs and receive
OTA messages for remote
with 3G and
even if the
is only for a
Since devices cannot be easily
accessed and re-configured,
they should avoid dependency
on any one network.
The connectivity should
be remotely controlled
and access to multiple
The modem should be compatible
with different connectivity options.
For example, non-steered
multi-network SIMs are key
to avoiding coverage
Must accept the
OTA to ensure
that SIMs can
To keep connectivity costs
to a minimum,
session lengths must be
optimized to allow for data
• Due to the nature of the application, remote and roaming devices are difficult to troubleshoot or
maintain. They must be designed to allow remote updates to avoid costly truck rolls and
• The firmware must be designed to allow interaction with different types of cellular connectivity
via the SIM card (multi-network, multi-IMSI).
• Devices should include an STK (SIM Application Toolkit) and ability to use multi-IMSI SIMs and
receive OTA messages for remote configuration.
• In terms of hardware, the printed circuit board design should be compatible with 3G and 4G
modems even if the current requirement is only for a 2G modem. Future proofing of the
hardware is key to avoid problems caused by changes in market conditions (e.g. the 2G sunset).
• In terms of configuration, to ensure that connectivity costs are kept to a minimum, session
lengths must be optimized to allow for data billing increments. Depending on the power
requirements of the device, it may be necessary to leave the session open.
• In remote areas, coverage can be an issue. Non-steered multi-network SIMs are key to avoiding
• Mission critical applications require redundancy built into the SIM. Due to network limitations it is
risky to rely on a single core network. Multi-IMSI solutions can provide a No Single Point of Failure
network that provides redundancy in the case of disruptions on the network.
• For remote management and future proofing of devices, an OTA platform is necessary to ensure
that SIMs can be updated as and when market conditions change. This is particularly relevant for
devices that include embedded SIM cards.
Remote device requirements
Which connectivity partner can provide
the best options for future-proofing?
The most important
aspect is the
of the provider
to avoid reliance
on any one network
in case of
Independent MVNOs can now add their own virtual
infrastructure, software and platforms on top of
the network connectivity
A specialist connectivity
provider in the M2M/IoT
space can negotiate
around the world
on the SIM
• MVNOs are independent, so they can make agreements with individual networks around the
world and build up a good portfolio of connectivity across different operators’ infrastructures.
• Due to this independence, they can combine the best prices and coverage available across
their portfolio of network agreements and they don’t steer the connection to specific
networks which may cause coverage issues.
• The key to future-proof connectivity via an MVNO, is to choose a provider that has
incorporated the IMSIs of each core network onto one SIM card, for the freedom to configure
the best roaming profile depending on the requirements of the application.
• Many MVNOs are now adding their own virtual infrastructure, software and platforms on top
of the network connectivity, providing more control and future proofing e.g. virtual HLR, multi-
IMSI applications on the SIM, OTA platform for remote control.
• These MVNOs can layer networks on top of one another to provide redundancy and back-up
in case of technical or commercial issues.
• In addition to the independence and control this offers, one of the main benefits of working
with an MVNO is their in depth understanding and experience of the vertical sectors in which
many of these applications work and the way devices, firmware, software need to be
configured for optimum connectivity and future proofing of the device.
Which connectivity partner can provide the
best options for future-proofing?