Wednesday, 16 September 2020 14:58

How to deal with devices in unstable networks

LwM2M Server LwM2M Server

There is a large selection of wireless communication interfaces in IoT technology used for wireless data transmission. Most of them, unfortunately, suffer from numerous disadvantages, such as short range, relatively low speed (compared to the cable network) or less secure transmission. This is why it is necessary for wireless networks to be properly managed.

There are numerous ways to do that, including the use of such sophisticated platforms for asset management as LwM2M Server. In this article, we would like to take a closer look at the problem of unstable networks in IoT and how to deal with it.

What connectivity technologies are available?

The smooth functioning of the Internet of Things products is based on the effective collection, transmission and processing of data. These types of activities, however, require appropriate technologies that will be adapted to high data transmission loads. Note, that often, there are millions of devices operating simultaneously in a given area. Each of them collects data, sends it to the cloud, where they are processed, and carries out further tasks. Today, we can identify a few most popular types of networks available on the market: 

  • traditional cellular networks which include GSM (2G), UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G) networks,  

  • proprietary LPWA networks which include Sigfox and LoRa

  • cellular LPWA networks which include NB-IoT and eMTC.

Thanks to the LPWA technology, the cost of implementing and operating solutions has been significantly reduced due to increased battery life (thanks to the power saving mode), which extends the lifetime of some products to more than ten years, and also due to the improved coverage of the area (thanks to better data transmission methods). 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of LPWA networks?

Proprietary LPWA is characterized by the possibility of establishing a private network without the need for certification, but with low time-to-market time – which allows you to quickly implement the idea and release it to the market. The risk posed by the use of proprietary LPWA solutions (Sigfox, LoRa) is generally limited to the lack of warranty for the offered services, uncertain duration / availability, limited release to specific markets and the inability to migrate to support newer standards.

There is, however, cellular LPWA (NB-IoT, eMTC) – standards that, truth be told, take time to be adapted, but offer global coverage, high quality of service, are supported in many systems, and allow for migration to newer technologies.

The question is: which LPWA technology to choose? Some work great in small areas (NB-IoT), while others handle larger data packages (eMTC) better.

One thing’s for sure – once you choose your connectivity option, what you need are tools to manage the devices within your network.

How can I look after my fleet?

Looking after devices means, above all, commissioning, monitoring and protection of your assets using, hopefully, one system. Such a system should guarantee the interoperability of connected devices using various communication protocols. It should also be capable of supervising the network using an advanced and flexible rule-based mechanism where your devices can be updated in over-the-air modes. But that’s not all! You need to be able to respond to anomalies before they cause serious problems and that can be done thanks to real-time infrastructure analytics and monitoring, clearly defined KPIs and thresholds that trigger specific alerts or actions. This and much more can be done using technologies that incorporate various standards dedicated to IoT asset management, such as LwM2M Server

When you’re able to provide current firmware and security patches in OTA mode to all your devices with a single tool, you will never have problems with potentially unstable networks so characteristic of the Internet of Things.