Internet of Things, or IoT, is now everywhere from smart appliances in our homes (smart speakers, smart thermostats, etc.) to larger deployments like airports, malls, and even smart cities.
IoT refers to the billions of physical devices all around the world that are now connected to the internet, transmitting and receiving data to each other to allow automation, personalization, and other functionalities that are going to be beneficial for people and businesses.
Thanks to advancements in technologies, computer chips are more affordable than ever, and we have faster and more accessible internet all over the world. So, it’s now possible to connect anything to the internet, from something as small as nanobots to something as big as trains and even airplanes.
Connectivity remains one of the most important factors, and also the biggest challenge in any IoT deployment. If you are looking for scale, cellular IoT connectivity remains the best with the biggest coverage range compared to other options like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Yet, how should we look for the best IoT data plans and connectivity? Below, we will discuss how.
Why Cellular IoT Data Plan
First things first, before we are going to discuss how to choose between the IoT data plans, we have to discuss why we choose cellular connectivity for our IoT system in the first place.
As we know, there are other connectivity options we can use in an IoT system from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth to newer technologies like LPWAN, NB-IoT, Zigbee, and so on. So, is cellular IoT data plan your best option?
The important thing to understand is that each IoT connectivity option is about a tradeoff between bandwidth, coverage range, and power consumption.
Based on these three factors, the cellular IoT data plan is a connectivity option with high power consumption, high bandwidth, and high coverage range. In fact, cellular IoT connectivity offers the best coverage range amongst the other options, and also one of the best bandwidth capabilities. The main trade off, however, is that cellular connection will eat a lot of your device’s battery power.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, on the other hand, offers low power consumption with relatively high bandwidth, but they are very limited in range. In most cases with these types of connectivity, you can only connect devices that are separated below 30 feet in range.
There are also connectivity options that are focused on using as low power as possible. Typically they offer decent enough coverage range but low bandwidth to compensate for the low power consumption. LPWAN, NB-IoT, and Z-Wave, among others, belong to this category.
So, to summarize, cellular IoT data plan is a great choice when the power consumption/battery life of your IoT devices is not an issue, but you’d want to maximize coverage range and bandwidth.
Choosing an IoT Data Plan: Key Factors
Choosing the right IoT data plan is very important in ensuring the reliability and performance of your IoT network. Below, we will discuss the key factors to consider when choosing a connectivity partner for your IoT data plan:
1. Network Speed
Speed/bandwidth is obviously an important issue that’s going to impact the performance of IoT devices and the whole system. When considering network speed, however, there are other factors we should also consider, including the number of devices in the IoT network, location/environment, coverage, purpose of the IoT system, and more.
Also, if you are going to scale your IoT system outside your country an IoT connectivity management platform like Truphone for Things will allow you to scale your operation more effectively.
Another factor regarding network speed is stability. It’s important to choose an IoT Data Plan with minimum downtime and stable speed at all times to maintain performance.
2. Pricing and Versatility
Pricing is obviously an important factor to consider, especially if we also consider scalability. Businesses need scalable IoT data plans that offer versatile pricing models based on the IoT system’s evolving needs.
For example, as data usage increases, we’d want IoT data plans that offer flexibility in savings and added value so we can ensure to improve our IoT network’s cost-efficiency. So, when considering different IoT data plans, make sure not only to consider the initial price offering but also the flexibility when scaling your network.
3. Customer Support and Management Solution
An IoT data plan is not only about reliable connection, but typically the network provider will also provide a management solution to manage your connected devices and clients. Check whether your IoT provider offers its management solution. Truphone, for example, offers an intuitive and easy to use device management solution where you can seamlessly monitor and manage interconnected devices.
Another important factor is customer service. No matter how good your IoT system and the IoT data plan, there’ll always be issues every now and then. Make sure your network provider has responsive customer support.
When choosing between IoT data plans, make sure to choose one with reliable coverage depending on your system’s location, competitive and scalable rates, and easy to use management solution across a growing number of interconnected devices.
4. Seamless Roaming Across Regions
Depending on your IoT application, you might find yourself branching out into additional locations as you grow your business. So, you’ll need a network provider that will, in a sense, ‘follow you’.
Look for an IoT data plan with coverage across many different areas and countries, and one that will allow you to expand at will while moving between locations and—if necessary— networks. So, you wouldn’t lose service as you move across different locations.
If you plan to scale your business and IoT network fast, then you might want to consider choosing a network provider that offers global connections.
While there are many different factors to consider when choosing between different IoT data plans, to summarize you should choose one that:
- Offers reliable coverage and stable network speed in your IoT system’s location (and planned future locations)
- Offers reliable device management solutions to easily monitor and manage your devices
- Offers competitive price, and flexibility as you scale your IoT network
- Has reliable customer support
To learn more about Truphone for Things and how it can help your IoT data connectivity, please visit here.