M2M One – December 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to M2M One’s December newsletter. As the end of another busy year approaches, we advise you of deadlines for M2M One orders and hours of operations leading up to the Christmas and New Year period. Our support is available over the Christmas break even though our office is closed.

We thank you for your business this year. It has been a pleasure helping you reach your goals, and we look forward to contributing to your success next year. The team at M2M One would like to wish you all a happy and safe break over the Christmas Holiday period and hopes for an exciting 2016.

This months newsletter features:

  1. Notification – Christmas Business Hours
  2. Reference – Useful Documents
  3. Blog – LTE Enhancements for M2M and IoT
  4. Customer Reminder – Telstra 2G (GSM) 900MHz Shutdown

1. Notification – Christmas Business Hours

The M2M One office will be closed over the Christmas & New Years period:

M2M Office closes – 5:00pm Wednesday December 23rd 2015

M2M Office re-opens – 8:30am Monday January 4th 2016

Key Dates & Times

SIM Card Orders – Last SIM card orders are 3:00pm on Wednesday December 23rd

IPX Network Changes – Changes to IPX, VPN or Gateway configurations must be submitted before 5:00pm on Wednesday December 23rd

Technical Support – M2M One Technical Support will be available throughout the holiday period using the emergency contact details listed below – If your issue is not critical please continue to use support@m2mone.com.au

Key Contacts at M2M One

Non-critical Technical Support & IPX Network Changes – Email support@m2mone.com.au or call +61 3 9696 3011 in office hours

Emergency Technical Support – For emergency support please call Prashanth Phutane on +61 488 286 600 or James Mack on +61 411 823 787

SIM Card Orders – Email orders@m2mone.com.au

Invoice, Accounts & Billing – Email accounts@m2mone.com.au

Sales & Account Management (VIC, SA, TAS) – Contact Gideon Borden on gideon.borden@m2mone.com.au or +61 434 770 771

Sales & Account Management (QLD, WA, NT) – Contact Sean Taylor on

sean.taylor@m2mone.com.au or +61 421 724 844

Sales & Account Management (NSW, ACT) – Contact Peter Austin on

peter.austin@m2mone.com.au or +61 407 595 393

Sales Outside of Australia or Service Escalation – Contact James Mack on

james.mack@m2mone.com.au or +61 411 823 787

If you have any questions regarding your service from M2M One, the M2M Control Centre or anything else please don’t hesitate to contact our support team at support@m2mone.com.au or contact me directly at james.mack@m2mone.com.au

2. Reference – Useful Documents

M2M One is building a library of reference material for our customers. Information includes the following useful documents:

Current Retail Pricing – Contact Us

M2M Control Centre Guide – https://www.m2mone.com.au/m2m-downloads/manuals/M2M-One-Control%20Centre-Customer-Admin-Guide-May-2015.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions – https://www.m2mone.com.au/faq/

M2M One Support Portal – https://www.m2mone.com.au/m2m-support/

 

If you have any questions or need any support on pricing, data usage, spend or general control centre support contact M2M One at any time at support@m2mone.com.au

3. Blog – LTE Enhancements for M2M & IoT

This week we’re doing something a little different – We wanted to reach out to other businesses in the M2M/IoT ecosystem and get their opinions and tips on the industry. The first cab off the rank is M2M Connectivity, a specialist M2M hardware provider offering a range of products designed to help people build their ideal M2M product. With all the talk of 2G shutting down (read our blog) and companies deciding to make the jump to 3G or LTE we wanted to get some technical perspectives on LTE and the different flavors available…

You can read the full blog on LTE Enhancements for M2M & IoT here

4. Reminder – Telstra 2G 900MHz Shutdown

We would like to continue to remind our customers that Telstra will discontinue their 2G/GSM network on the 1st of December 2016. This has implications for M2M One customers using 2G 900MHz GSM/GPRS modems.

You can view our official notification here

M2M One customers with 2G devices have the opportunity to utilize 3G and soon 4G LTE. All M2M One SIM cards are compatible with the Telstra 2G, 3G and soon 4G network so you will not need to physically change any SIM cards from M2M One.

M2MOne customers affected by the shut down of Telstra’s 2G/GSM network who are looking for solutions/alternatives for their 2G/GSM devices are advised to contact a 3G/4G LTE device vendor.
Please read M2M One’s notification of the shutdown if you haven’t already.

You can also read our blog on the Australian 2G Shutdown here

If you do not know if your devices will be affected by this please contact M2M One and we can help you.
Preparing your business for the 2G/GSM network shut down in Australia

Preparing your business for the 2G/GSM network shut down in Australia

The current state of 2G/GSM Networks As many of you are probably aware, Cellular network operators around the world are planning to shut down their 2G networks to re-farm spectrum for more efficient 4G/LTE services. In the USA, AT&T plans to shut their 2G Network by January 1st 2017. Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to have all 2G networks shut down at once with M1, Starhub & Singtel announcing a joint shut down on April 1st, 2017. Here in Australia, Telstra’s 2G will be shut down on December 1st 2016, with Optus to following suit with their 2G network closure on 1st April 2017 and finally Vodafone Australia closing the remaining 2G network on 30th of September 2017 (Click here for more) Research firm Berg Insight theorize that globally 3G & 4G/LTE technologies will dominate cellular M2M communications by 2018. Pointing to the declining use of 2G by M2M developers in favor of 3G and 4G/LTE technologies, citing the greater reliability, coverage and speeds as the major drawing factor. LTE in particular delivers peak speeds of up to 100 Mbps allowing for faster transfers and better handling of more data intensive applications like video cameras or digital displays. The majority of mobile networks that are shutting down 2G have plans to re-farm spectrum for additional 4G/LTE network capacity. The business driver behind this decision is that it consolidates and makes more efficient use of their networks resulting in lower operating costs, fewer networks to support, and frees up spectrum for faster more lucrative services. So why is 2G so popular with M2M/IoT? The closure of 2G networks has the largest impact in the M2M space with an estimated 70% of M2M devices worldwide still utilizing 2G technologies. The major factor behind the prevalence of 2G devices in the M2M/IoT space is a simple one, cost. Not as simple are the factors that make up the costs behind an M2M device: Hardware Cost – The fact that 2G modems are less expensive than 3G modems should come as no surprise, it’s not very often that an older technology commands higher prices than it’s successor. The problem in the hardware space has compounded by the ‘Qualcomm tax’, due to the high volume of patents related to 3G owned by Qualcomm the price for 3G modules and modems has remained relatively static, and only recently as companies have got more economical with other elements and 4G/LTE development is ramping up, has the cost started to come down closer to 2G pricing. This has meant that a lot of businesses that probably should have been developing with 3G technology 2 or 3 years ago have put it off to avoid raising prices. The problem now is that businesses have a much shorter development time frame due to the impending 2G shut down. Lifecycle – M2M data needs are typically light compared to consumer applications that require the faster speeds and bandwidth of 3G and 4G/LTE so the lifecycle of a field device can be anywhere from 3-10 years compared to an average phone or tablet, which is replaced nearly yearly by most consumers. Upgrade costs – The nature of most M2M devices is that they are deployed in either very remote areas and connected to mobile assets, in countries with large remote areas like Australia the cost of sending a person out to upgrade or change a device can be in the thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. Customer Perception – With customers conditioned to think that prices should come down over time, businesses working on a very thin margin have found themselves in a precarious position as the cost of deploying 3G increases their costs, but their customer base is unwilling to pay for what they feel is an ‘unnecessary’ upgrade. This has meant several businesses have decided to keep 2G technologies in place longer than their initial roadmap might have dictated. So where do we go from here? There is no doubt about it, with development times in M2M/IoT ranging from 6-18 months for new solutions. M2M system vendors in Australia need to make a decision now on the next iteration of their solution. While some companies are choosing the ‘mystery box’ and gambling on Vodafone Australia maintaining it’s 2G network, the majority of companies we work with across M2M One are looking at 3G & 4G/LTE upgrade paths. What are your upgrade options? Build vs. Buy – The first question you really need to ask yourself is whether you need to build a new product from scratch or if a solution already exists that can save you development time and cost. M2M-modules-image The problem with upgrading a 2G solution from a module level is that most 2G modules have a completely different form factor, where most major modules suppliers now keep a common form factor for 3G & 4G/LTE – This often leads to a complete redesign of your base board, which adds time and money to the upgrade. A lot of businesses that were early adopters of M2M/IoT from the 2G or even Circuit Switch Data (CSD) days had to develop their own solution, as nothing was available. Now we live in a time where M2M hardware has a level of standardization in terms of inputs and functionality meaning it may be cheaper and easier for businesses to go from building a solution from a board level upwards to perhaps buying an off the shelf finished modem or even a complete product and white labeling (this is becoming increasingly popular in the competitive vehicle tracking and telematics space). 2G to 3G – The most immediate fix for the majority of businesses is to make the jump from 2G to 3G. The good news is that the cost of developing a 3G M2M device has reduced considerably making the process slightly less painful. With quad and penta-band 3G modules on the market now, you can build a device that can be shipped anywhere in the world without having to worry about your base module. The major consideration here is the rapid growth of 4G/LTE, with coverage set to match and surpass 3G in the coming year a lot of people are questioning the long-term future of 3G, while none of the carriers are making any statements regarding this. We have been advising customers that if they plan to have a device in the field for 10 years or more they should be using 4G/LTE to be safe. 2G to 4G/LTE – As coverage grows the idea of leapfrogging 3G altogether and going with a pure 4G/LTE solution or a solution that is 4G/LTE with 3G fallback is looking like the most sensible path for a majority of solution providers. While a lot of M2M devices don’t need the added speed that comes with 4G/LTE the greater coverage, capacity and reliability of service is a huge draw. Several module manufactures and networks are discussing M2M specific operations on LTE Cat-0, a lower bandwidth M2M specific subset of LTE which will reduce both module and data costs. This isn’t to say 4G/LTE doesn’t bring it’s own difficulties along with it. While LTE modules are expected to drop in price much quicker than their 3G counterparts, they are still reasonably expensive compared to 2G. Another headache is the number of LTE bands currently being used; there are currently 32 LTE bands in use with 44 including LTE-TDD. There are currently no easily accessible modules on the market that will cover all LTE bands, which means deploying a global single SKU M2M device is currently impossible on LTE. Several countries have common bands making regional applications possible, but for a true global option your choices are limited. Where do I get started? The best place to get started is to speak to your supplier about upgrade paths, every module and modem supplier in Australia will be able to give you a number of options for upgrading your existing product and you might be pleasantly surprised by the ease and cost of some of these. If you don’t have contact with a supplier, most mobile network operators will be able to supply you with a list of approved hardware and integrators that can assist. Some may even assist with discounts, subsidies or consolidation of services as they want to minimize the number of 2G connections come shut down time. Of course M2M One are always here to help, we have connections to most of Australia’s leading M2M/IoT hardware providers and our team of M2M network experts can assist with helping you create an upgrade path that works for your business.

Did you find this information useful? Do you have some questions on the Australian Machine-to-Machine and Internet of Things market we can answer for you? Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.

James Mack

General Manager – M2M One

The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.

M2M Tips – Deploying Cellular M2M or IoT Devices in Australia

M2M Tips – Deploying Cellular M2M or IoT Devices in Australia

Over the past 15 years the team at M2M Connectivity & M2M One have coached, consulted, celebrated and at times commiserated with thousands of hopeful developers trying to make their mark on the Machine to Machine/Internet of Things landscape.

This series of blog posts is designed to pass on some M2M 101 style tips to developers looking to get into the space.

This week we give some tips to businesses, developers and distributors who are looking to build or import an M2M/IoT solution for use in our backyard, the Australian marketplace.

Traditionally we have dealt with local Australian or New Zealand based developers building products specifically designed to meet some of the unique challenges in terms of coverage, environment and demand in Australia – With the increasing global nature of M2M/IoT we’ve seen our customer base grow to include two interesting new additions:

  • International companies looking to bring their unique solution to the Australian Market.
  • Local Entrepreneurs with a great product idea sourcing or developing hardware using international manufacturers.

This is great because it brings a whole new range of innovation and competition to the local market, but it also brings unique challenges as a majority of these customers are unfamiliar with the intricacies of deploying solutions in Australia.

Some of the more isolated areas in Australia are found in the north and the centre of the Country - Image from AussieStock

Some of the more isolated areas in Australia are found in the north and the centre of the Country – Image from AussieStock

Mobile Coverage

Australia is unique in terms of geography in that a large portion of the country is relatively unpopulated or uninhabitable while there is some mobile infrastructure that covers these areas around 70% of the countries landmass does not have mobile coverage and can only be covered by Satellite. The closest country in terms of similar mobile coverage disparity is possibly Canada, but the physical geography is quite different.

To give you an idea of the population density and mobile coverage, the country’s largest mobile network operator Telstra covers roughly 28-30% of Australia and 99.5% of the population; the second largest operator Optus covers roughly 13-15% of Australia and 98.5% of the population. Telstra covers roughly an extra 1 million Square Kilometers of the Country to cover an additional 1% of the population.

Most major motorways, truck routes and shipping areas have mobile coverage so you are rarely without coverage, unless you go completely into the ‘bush’.

An example of Telstra's coverage of Australia

An example of Telstra’s coverage of Australia

Mobile Network Operators

Australia has 3 major mobile network operators, with all other providers operating as wholesales or MVNOs for existing infrastructure. ADSL provider TPG has recently purchased some LTE spectrum as has the National Broadband Network (NBN) but neither have announced any long-term plans.

The 3 operators in Australia are:

  • Telstra – The countries largest mobile network covering over 2.3 million square kilometers (roughly 28-30% of the country) and 99.5% of the population.
  • Optus – The countries second largest mobile network covering over 1.3 million square kilometers (Roughly 13-15% of the country) and 98.5% of the population.
  • Vodafone – Vodafone don’t typically publish their coverage statistics, but have recently entered into a 3G tower sharing agreement with Optus so you can estimate that their coverage is similar to Optus.

Operating Frequencies

Australian carriers operate 2G, 3G & LTE networks – CDMA was decommissioned in 2008.

Telstra Optus & Vodafone are following US Carrier AT&T’s model of closing down 2G to re-farm spectrum for LTE/4G.

Telstra:

  • 2G – 900Mhz (This frequency is being re-farmed for LTE and will no longer be available to 2G devices from December 1st 2016)
  • 3G – 850Mhz/2100Mhz (For the best coverage 850Mhz is a must have)
  • 4G/LTE – Telstra currently operates 5 frequencies for LTE these are listed below. The critical frequencies for all M2M/IoT applications are B3 & B28
    • B1 – 2100Mhz
    • B3 – 1800Mhz (Must have for M2M/IoT)
    • B7 – 2600Mhz
    • B8 – 900Mhz
    • B28 – 700Mhz (Must have for M2M/IoT)

Optus:

  • 2G – 900Mhz (This frequency is being re-farmed for LTE and will no longer be available to 2G devices from April 1st 2017)
  • 3G – 900Mhz/2100Mhz
  • 4G/LTE – Optus currently operates 6 frequencies for LTE these are listed below. The critical frequencies for all M2M/IoT applications are B3 & B28
    • B1 – 2100Mhz
    • B3 – 1800Mhz (Must have for M2M/IoT)
    • B7 – 2600Mhz
    • B8 – 900Mhz
    • B28 – 700Mhz (Must have for M2M/IoT)
    • B40 – 2300Mhz

Vodafone:

  • 2G – 900Mhz (This frequency is being re-farmed for LTE and will no longer be available to 2G devices from September 30th 2017)
  • 3G – 900Mhz/2100Mhz
  • 4G/LTE – Vodafone currently operates 3 frequencies for LTE these are listed below. The critical frequencies for all M2M/IoT applications are B3 & B5
    • B3 – 1800Mhz (Must have for M2M/IoT)
    • B5 – 850Mhz (Must have for M2M/IoT)
    • B8 – 900Mhz

Roaming SIMs in Australia

If you are buying SIMs from an international carrier or MVNO it is important to note that Telstra does not allow permanent roaming on their network and can exercise the right to remove services from their network that have been roaming for over 6 months in any 12 month period – Read more here

For permanent M2M/IoT applications that require the Telstra network your best option is to speak to M2M One or Telstra directly.

Hardware Approvals

All M2M/IoT hardware using an Australian Mobile Network should be RCM (Formerly A-Tick) approved – This is similar to European (CE) approval and US (FCC) approval. In some cases devices with CE or FCC approval can have approval time and costs reduced.

RCM approval stamp

RCM approval stamp

If a device is being worn on the body in also needs to undergo SAR testing for radiation levels.

Telstra and Optus also have their own approval process, this is not necessary to use their networks but devices using an approved module/modem will often be prioritized with support issues.

For more information about approval we recommend speaking to EMC Technologies or Comtest Laboratories

IP Addressing

Public IP Address space is limited in Australia and most mobile carriers will not provide any sort of publically addressable IP for M2M/IoT devices. Your best bet is to utilize public Internet access or have a private IP range built on an APN for you.

For more information about IP Addressing – Read our last blog post

Operating Costs

We find that a majority of customers that come from international markets, particularly Europe or Asia find the price of Data, SMS & Voice in Australia quite expensive compared to their home market.

This has long been the case in Australia and local developers have learned to adapt and minimize their costs through efficient use of data. It is therefore important for anyone bringing a solution into Australia that they consider how to best utilize their data allowance.

For example we see a lot of vehicle tracking and telematics applications from China and SE Asia. These are typically more ‘data hungry’ as data is relatively cheap in these markets; most devices typically consume 30MB or data or more a month for normal operations. An equivalent Australian made device would probably consume between 3-5MB of data per month for similar functionality due to price constraints in the market.

There you have it, a quick practical overview on deploying M2M or IoT hardware in Australia. In our next article we will give a more general overview of the Australian M2M market, pointing out the areas that are saturated and those that are growing, from our experience.

 

Did you find this tip useful? Do you have some questions on the Australian Machine-to-Machine and Internet of Things market we can answer for you? Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.

James Mack

General Manager – M2M One

The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.

M2M One – June 2015 Newsletter

This month we’re excited to announce the availability of the 4G/LTE service on M2M One SIM Cards as just one of the initiatives recently introduced to better serve our customers. These include last month’s upgrade of customer control and functionality for M2M deployments through the customised use of the M2M Control Centre, and the reduced pricing on SMS, Data and Static IP Services. Supporting M2M One’s commitment to educating and helping new entrants to M2M/IoT, we share news of our exciting collaboration with ATrack and information in our first blog of M2M 101 tips. After a successful exhibition at CommunicAsia in Singapore last month as part of the State Government of Victoria’s trade delegation, we’re gearing up for Security 2015 in July. See the details and free registration below.

This months newsletter features:

  1. Notification – 4G/LTE Service now available on M2M One SIM Cards
  2. Blog – M2M Tips – Public IP vs Private IP – Addressing for M2M/IoT Devices
  3. Exhibition – Security Exhibition and Conference 2015 – Melbourne
  4. News – ATrack and M2M One Collaboration
  5. Reminder – Telstra 2G (GSM) 900MHz Shut Down

1. Notification – 4G/LTE Service now available on M2M One SIM Cards

We are pleased to announce that as of the 22nd of June 2015, M2M One can now offer 4G/LTE service through our SIM cards as well as the existing 3G & 2G (Telstra 2G will be shut down on December 1st 2016) connectivity. Also as of today, 4G/LTE is now available on all M2M One & Telstra APN configurations.

M2M One 4G/LTE Service Information:

  • 4G/LTE is available to all M2M One customers at no additional cost.
  • 4G/LTE will work on all existing M2M One SIM cards, there is no need for a replacement.
  • 4G/LTE is now available on all M2M One & Telstra APN configurations
  • 4G/LTE is not currently enabled by default and must be requested by emailing support@m2mone.com.au

To utilize 4G/LTE your device must be compatible with the following 4G frequency bands:

  • B3 – 1800Mhz (Main operating frequency)
  • B28 – 700Mhz (Main operating frequency)
  • B1 – 2100Mhz (Optional fallback frequency)
  • B7 – 2600Mhz (Optional fallback frequency)
  • B8 – 900Mhz (Optional fallback frequency)

If you have any questions regarding servicefrom M2M One, the M2M Control Centre, M2M SIM Pricing or anything else please don’t hesitate to contact our support team at support@m2mone.com.au or contact me directly at james.mack@m2mone.com.au

2. Blog – M2M Tips – Public IP vs Private IP – Addressing for M2M/IoT Devices

Part of a series of tips to developers looking to get into the M2M/IoT space, this first blog looks at IP address allocation for M2M/IoT devices.

Our blog looks at the costs and implications of the following options:

Public Internet Access via NAT with dynamic private addressing which utilizes common carrier APNs. The IP address of the SIM is hidden behind the networks firewall so the device can’t be addressed directly across the public internet, which means all devices with this setup need to initiate a communication session with the host service/client.

Public Internet Access with dynamic public IP is a popular solution that also uses the public Internet over a common APN but allocating a publicly addressable IP address instead that usually changes with each new session.

Private Static IP Addressing uses completely static addressable IPs from an IP range on a private APN allowing devices to be given their own unchanging IP address that is extremely secure. Methods of getting in to the private IP space are via a VPN tunnel or by using a centrally allocated router configured on that IP space to talk to all other devices in the field.

Read the full blog here.

3. Exhibition – M2M One at Security 2015

The Security Exhibition and Conference celebrates 30 years of security innovation in Melbourne next month. Australasia’s premier security event, Security 2015 is a forum for security professionals, end users and those in allied industries to meet experts, network with peers and view and compare innovative security products and solutions. M2M One is pleased to be exhibiting at Security 2015 on stand H48.

Date:           15 – 16 July 2015     9:30am – 5pm
17 July 2015            9;30am – 2pm
Place:         Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Stand:         H48

Visit us to discuss M2M/ioT connectivity solutions and view products from M2M Connectivity’s range of satellite products suited to security applications.

Admission is for trade professionals only and there is no charge to visit the exhibition.
For more information and to register for free entry to Security 2015 please click here.

For information about other shows M2M One are exhibiting at click here

4. News – ATrack and M2M One collaboration

ATrack and M2M One collaborate to provide 3G services to telematics and tracking customers throughout Australia.

M2M One recently announced a new partnership with leading Taiwanese hardware manufacturer ATrack Technology Inc. ATrack is one of the first round of companies to be part of M2M One’s new partnership program. The program is focused on creating a network of hardware, software and solution providers that can help new entrants into the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) space develop and grow their business quickly.
ATrack & M2M One are collaborating to support businesses in Australia that are adopting 3G hardware to benefit from the larger coverage area and higher throughput. These benefits coupled with the uncertain future of 2G networks and the shut down of Telstra’s 2G network on December 1st 2016 have driven companies to push their migration from 2G telematics devices to 3G quicker than anticipated.

The ultilization of ATrack’s complete product line of quality 3G devices is simplified by M2M One services
by providing complete access to the 3G network and a suite of management and diagnostic tools for companies to manage their fleet of M2M SIM Cards.

Read the full press release here.

5. Reminder – Telstra 2G 900MHz Shutdown

We would like to remind our customers that Telstra will discontinue their 2G/GSM network on the 1st of December 2016. This has implications for M2M One customers using 2G 900MHz GSM/GPRS modems.

M2M One customers with 2G devices have the opportunity to utilize 3G and soon 4G LTE. All M2M One SIM cards are compatible with the Telstra 2G, 3G and soon 4G network so you will not need to physically change any SIM cards from M2M One.

M2MOne customers affected by the shut down of Telstra’s 2G/GSM network who are looking for solutions/alternatives for their 2G/GSM devices are advised to contact a 3G/4G LTE device vendor.
Please read M2M One’s notification of the shutdown if you haven’t already.

If you do not know if your devices will be affected by this please contact M2M One and we can help you.

M2M Tips – Building a cellular M2M or IoT solution? How to maximize your up time.

M2M Tips – Building a cellular M2M or IoT solution? How to maximize your up time.

Over the past 15 years the team at M2M Connectivity & M2M One have coached, consulted, celebrated and at times commiserated with thousands of hopeful developers trying to make their mark on the Machine to Machine/Internet of Things landscape.

This series of blog posts is designed to pass on some M2M 101 style tips to developers looking to get into the space.

A big question we get asked is “How do I keep my device online as long as possible”, while it’s almost impossible to provide 100% uptime for any wireless device we’ve provided a few tips below to help you get closer.

 

A few things to consider:

  • Expect outages! – Despite their best intentions every single mobile operator in the world still has to have periods where they restart or change a network element either planned or otherwise.
  • ‘Mobile’ Networks – Most people aren’t in the same spot using their phone or iPad for 24 hours a day so they don’t notice network changes or intricacies, but m2m devices are a bit different. A data-logger measuring the water level of a reservoir isn’t going anywhere so if the network goes down, even for a moment it’s communication is going to be interrupted.
  • Is coverage available? – In countries like Australia you can have vast regions of unpopulated land, at some point you’re going to run out of cellular coverage so you need to think of how to cope.

 

Worst case scenario... - Photo courtesy of http://www.engineeringradio.us

Worst case scenario… – Photo courtesy of http://www.engineeringradio.us

So how can you preempt a lack of cellular coverage?

1. Store and forward – Make sure you have enough memory on your hardware to store at least one or two days of data, that way if you experience an outage or your device moves out of cellular coverage temporarily nothing is lost.

 

2. Build a smarter modem – This is particularly important for devices that don’t move between cell towers. Previously we advised customers building M2M devices that they should factor in an automatic reboot to any stationary M2M device at minimum once a day. This is still a great tried and tested solution, but if you need something that communicates 24 hours a day an unnecessary restart may be impractical.

A majority of modem manufacturers include a ‘watchdog’ feature in their hardware which can be set to ping an IP address at certain intervals, this can either be a public known IP like Google for example, or your own network. If the device is unable to ping the ‘watchdog’ address then it will automatically power cycle the modem, without you having to do anything.

For older devices without a ‘watchdog’ we still recommend an automatic reboot at least once a day, and having some kind of failover like being able to restart the device with an SMS.

Why is restarting the modem important? Most raw M2M hardware is reasonably ‘dumb’ if it can see a network and can communicate with that network it assumes everything is ok. This however is not the case, have you ever been in a situation where you can make calls or send an SMS but can’t surf the Internet on your phone? Normally if you put it in and out of airplane mode it fixes the issue. The same principals apply here, the modem assumes everything is normal but really it can’t make a data/IP connection. By restarting the modem you force it to create a brand new connection which 99% of the time brings voice, SMS & data back.

 

3. Can you feel my heart (beat)? – For those of you who are building and deploying devices using public Internet APNs (those commonly shared with mobile phones and tablets). We highly recommend putting in a ‘heartbeat’ to remind the network your device is still there. Public networks are highly aggressive when it comes to closing sessions, this is to maximize capacity and reduce congestion.

Unfortunately networks around the world have different timeouts ranging from minutes to hours to days. So we can’t prescribe the perfect solution, but as most heartbeats send a minimum amount of data (around 1 byte per beat) you can usually be reasonably safe with every few minutes.

 

4. How critical is your data? – Most of the time store and forward will be ok; when a device is back in cellular coverage your data is sitting there waiting for you. However if you absolutely need 24 hour uptime you need some kind of failover, just like cellular became standard failover for Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Some devices can get away with utilizing multiple SIM cards or connecting to multiple carriers via a ‘roaming SIM’ – This is a great option for areas of high cellular coverage with multiple operators. Remote locations on the other hand tend to have a single operator or none at all, this is where utilizing satellite technology becomes critical.

A lot of people cringe when I start talking about satellite communications, their minds instantly go back to the days of $10,000+ phone bills and hardware that cost and weighed as much as a car. This really isn’t the case anymore, using satellite as a failover for cellular is fast becoming commonplace in OH&S solutions in the remote operations, utilities and mining sectors.

Sometimes satellite is your only option - Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Sometimes satellite is your only option – Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Hopefully these tips have inspired you to build some extra smarts or redundancy into your next or current M2M project.

Did you find this tip useful? Do you have some questions on the Machine-to-Machine and Internet of Things industry we can answer for you? Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.

 

James Mack

General Manager – M2M One

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.

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