NimbeLink: 'Game Changers in Low Power Cellular IoT' (Part 2 of 2)
The emerging Internet of Things (IoT), specifically cellular IoT is one of the fastest-growing markets many of us will ever see. As in any new market there will be a steady supply of “game changers,” but one of the biggest will be the demand for low power cellular modems. The cellular network was created to support phones, first for voice and more recently as pocket-size data devices, requiring more and more bandwidth for both individual devices and the network itself. Power-hungry smartphones turned us all into outlet-seeking creatures, always on the lookout for a charge to keep our smartphones connected. The Internet of Things (IoT) is turning all of that on its head.
As with all new technologies, each new cellular service offering has the potential to reshuffle market leadership. Because connectivity is fundamental to IoT applications, developers are highly motivated to incorporate any new, more effective cellular technology into products and must consider a lot of factors in making product choices. For very large product volumes, companies with lots of engineering resources can incorporate cellular chipsets. Chips are relatively low in cost but require the most time, engineering, testing, and certification for product development. Modules cost more, but incorporate chips and additional components necessary for cellular access. They somewhat reduce engineering cost and speed up development, but they also require significant engineering and end-device testing and certification. The third option, end-device-certified cellular modems, incorporate modules and other necessary components, and while they are most costly of the three options to purchase, they require the least engineering and are, by far, the fastest way to incorporate cellular connectivity into IoT products. In addition to minimizing development costs they help get products quickly to market, with all the advantages of being “first mover.” They also allow products to be introduced at smaller volumes enabling cost-effective redesign based on market feedback. And they allow engineering resources to focus on the IoT’s unique capabilities.
Another cellular option being developed is NB-IoT. This technology is significantly farther off, and will be introduced in Europe well before being available in the US. Its relative merits remain to be seen, but it does offer smaller bandwidth, may cost somewhat less than Cat M1, and will not be suitable for mobile applications.
Over the next few years, billions of devices, ranging from small consumer items to components of vast industrial systems, will become autonomous nodes in wireless real-time networks. They will function in the home, in factories, in vehicles, and in remote locations. New applications will emerge, and competition will shake up existing markets. Clearly, functionality will be critical, but product developers will be equally interested in speed to market and the flexibility to redesign products as markets, competition, and applications change.
Cellular networks have the reliability and coverage needed to meet connectivity needs quickly and effectively. And while chips and modules are perfectly acceptable ways to incorporate connectivity into products, they require significant engineering, time, and money. For small to medium volumes, maximum flexibility, minimum engineering requirements, and speed to market, nothing beats end-device-certified cellular IoT modems.
NimbeLink CEO Scott Schwalbe has extensive experience in in product design and cellular connectivity. NimbeLink is a leading provider of embedded cellular modems and has introduced a steady stream of innovative products to meet the changing needs of IoT product developers.
This is part 2 of 2 of this blog. Click here to read part 1.
For additional NimbeLink product information or technical support, contact Symmetry Electronics, an authorized distributor of industry leading wireless, audio/video and embedded chips, modules and dev/eval tools. www.symmetryelectronics.com/contact or call (877) 466-9722.
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