The Future of IoT- Cellular 4G networks were not originally designed or engineered to support IoT deployments; with the density of cellular services in the most populated and developed regions across the globe, the technology was invented for “always on” hyperconnected mobile devices, supporting data, voice, video, applications and “human communications.”
Cellular-based IoT projects have been educational. The mobile sessions drain batteries very quickly – making battery powered IoT devices challenging, because replacing batteries is expensive and potentially complicated. Business models have been the second hurdle – data charges can skyrocket without the right plan in place.
To solve for these challenges, alternative network protocols, platforms and network services have been built around LoRa, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a variety of mesh solutions to support processing and data relay at the edge, sending data via gateways to the cloud.
With the advent of LTE-M and NB-IoT, all of this has been changing. These technologies dramatically reduce power consumption, and the way they exchange data (sending and receiving) reduces data consumption and therefore recurring expense.
This important progression has inspired innovators to create new radio systems.
Developers now have access to “nano” chips from semi-conductor companies, and they embed them into modules, increasingly smaller form factors that add a processor, memory, power storage, and ports for antenna and other features. Some of these modules even work with 2G and/or GPS.
The commercial availability of 5G-ready, transitional chipsets designed specifically for low power and low bandwidth IoT applications are now available to developers in the form of cellular modules. Cellular modules build on the base functionality of the chipset, but add additional support like firmware, memory, processors, and a simplified means to connect the device to a circuit board.
Embedded modems are the next level in the continuum of adding 5G connectivity to an IoT device. Embedded modems build on the functionality of the module, adding features like power management, an on-board MCU, a SIM interface, the ability to update firmware over the air (FOTA), very simple and consistent pins for connecting to a circuit board and an antenna, and as a result are the simplest way to add 5G cellular connectivity. Furthermore, embedded modems are certified by carriers as an “End Device”, meaning that the final IoT device containing the embedded modem does not need to go through any further carrier certifications. Each step in the continuum from Chipset to Module to Embedded Modem represents a reduction in technical risk, a reduction in development timelines and a reduction in time to market.