Popular IoT Connectivity Options for Connected Device Manufacturers

Dan Heredia
Sep 10, 2018 8:00:00 AM

"What IoT connectivity options are available for my solution?"

Connected device manufacturers and brands have asked us this question for years.

The best IoT network to choose for your IoT solution depends almost entirely on the use case or planned application of the solution, as well as where the solution will be deployed geographically.

Some of the most commonly recognized connectivity options include:

  • Bluetooth
  • Cellular (LTE-M, NB-IoT, etc.)
  • Wi-Fi
  • LoRa
  • Thread
  • Zigbee
  • Z-Wave

Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account during the initial planning stages of IoT solution development.

For example, Bluetooth is commonly used in smart home products to allow the devices to communicate with and be controlled through a consumer's smartphone. Bluetooth has a limited range however, so a cellular option could oftentimes be more appropriate for applications like vehicle monitoring and asset tracking.

While some IoT connectivity options like Wi-Fi are technically "free," they can often result in complex setup requirements or cause headaches for end customers as well as the OEM.

In some cases, your target market helps to inform your decision around the right IoT network to use. Elderly patients, for example, may have a difficult time setting up a home Wi-Fi network or may not have one setup, and so a medical device company may decide that leveraging cellular networks - for usability and reliability reasons - is the best move to make.

In other cases like enterprise environments, requiring a user to manage different IoT devices using their personal smartphones or tablets may not be practical or secure.

These environmental conditions should be considered in the early stages of IoT development as they will definitely affect an IoT solution's implementation and ultimate success.

Taking Stake of Current and Future Challenges

If your company is in the early stages of developing a cellular-enabled IoT solution, you may be rightly concerned about how to optimize your data consumption and control costs. As your operation scales up and you begin to support customers in more geographies, controlling costs related to data consumption will become an even larger concern.

Wireless pricing models may seem secondhand to long-time industry experts, but for product management teams that are just getting into IoT, the inherent difficulties in supporting the different stages of device rollouts may be not be obvious. Getting an IoT solution to market quickly is hard enough, without thinking about the IoT connectivity options available and their specific effects on product pricing strategies.

Thankfully, more cost-effective cellular options are beginning to pop up like LTE-M and NB-IoT, which also have the benefit of being designed for low power IoT devices and applications.

Making It Easier to Support for Global Growth

Finally, as OEMs begin to offer their IoT solutions to more customers in different geographies, they may come to the realization that they will need to work with multiple carrier networks in order to control costs or maintain a consistent level of customer experience in different markets.

While many cellular carriers offer a wide range of connectivity options, the reality is that for OEMs, these options can sometimes be restrictive from a cost perspective.

By incorporating technology platforms that simplify multi-carrier connectivity, OEMs can achieve their goals of controlling their costs while dramatically simplifying their go-to-market process. The added benefit for OEMs is that they can offer a seamless experience to customers in new geographies that mirror the experience of existing customers.

Thanks to many years of working with OEMs and cellular carriers to launch IoT solutions, Zipit is able to provide key insights on the pros and cons of different IoT connectivity options and has built a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that streamline the provisioning process for cellular-enabled IoT solutions. These APIs have been designed to support OEMs' IoT solutions whether the data consumption needs are high or low bandwidth - further simplifying the process of getting fully-connected solutions into the market, fast.

If you are planning an IoT project and are unsure of the right connectivity option for your solution, feel free to contact us so we can discuss your company's unique needs and can provide you with some insights that could help you make the decision.

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