IoT Connectivity is a broad and complex topic, making it sometimes challenging to know the key to consider when making connectivity decisions for your business.
To help you on your way, we'll cover the most important elements of IoT connectivity in this quick guide to help you make the right choice for your unique connectivity needs. Here are the five most important questions you should ask yourself when deploying connected devices:
1. Power consumption: how much battery does it consume?
Whether your IoT devices will be plugged in 24/7, rechargeable, or replaceable, power consumption and battery life will play a key role in the connectivity your project uses. The type of usage, the location of the device and the size of the battery will all drive your choice of IoT connectivity.
2. Range: how wide is the area it covers?
Some projects will need as much range as possible, while others may be able to get it by using interconnected Bluetooth networks. Signal strengths differ, so you need to know how much range you need to be covered before choosing a connectivity solution, as this will impact other key considerations such as power consumption and cost.
3. Bandwidth: how much data does it transmit?
Most current IoT applications only need to transmit small amounts of data at a time, but as more sophisticated devices penetrate the market, the more complex the IoT projects become. It is important to know how much data your devices will transmit and how frequently so you can choose between high-volume IoT and LPWA networks suitable for low power and low data consumption.
4. Reliability: how reliable do I need my network to be, and with what coverage?
Regardless of the size, goals, and lifespan of your IoT project, network reliability and reliance are key. The more downtime your network has, the less "Internet" your Internet of Things is going to have. For critical IoT deployments, such as medical devices, health trackers, safety monitors and rescue drones, for example, a single network failure may lead to the loss of human life. Other projects, such as asset tracking for logistics, require cross-border network coverage but do not necessarily need real-time data 24/7. Before selecting your IoT connectivity plan, think about where you would need to connect and what your network fallback options are in case of an emergency.
5. Cost: how expensive is the connectivity?
Because of the large-scale and often global nature of IoT projects, connectivity can quickly (and likely will) become expensive. When comparing providers, make sure that you're getting the connectivity you need for a price that suits your budget without compromising on any of the other factors, especially reliability. Network pricing and access change regularly, so make sure you choose a provider that can offer you not only flexible pricing options but good network availability in the regions you operate in, so you can always have option B in case your primary network becomes too expensive or unavailable.