IOT NEWS

Industrial IoT News

Industrial IoT Home

Hybrid Connectivity: Leveraging Wireless and Satellite Technology to Meet IoT Demand

By Special Guest
Emmanuel Cotrel, CEO, FMC GlobalSat
January 23, 2019

There seems to be no limit to the continued escalation of IoT implementations in commercial and industrial applications. The thirst for information and insights required for improved monitoring and management of complex operations and systems is spurring the industry to expand existing network capacities and capabilities, and squeeze out more bandwidth to meet the demand, while keeping a wary eye on cost. Price, reliability, and bandwidth are important in all IoT deployments, yet they are even bigger factors when considering IoT services in remote areas such as mines, construction sites, offshore energy and distributed power generation systems, and oceangoing vessels.

Wireless networks—from 2G through 4G—have been the infrastructure of choice for most providers, and for good reason. These networks typically provide higher bandwidth and lower latency than satellite technology, but the throughout and signal strength diminish substantially when the implementation is far from a densely populated area. The problem becomes more complicated in maritime use. Once a ship leaves port, wireless connectivity is not only unavailable in transit, but the service connection in the next port is often through a completely different carrier. In addition, the typical wireless contract for maritime operators mirrors the consumer-use model based on flat rates and fair use (throttling after exceeding preset limits) which are not always compatible with business needs.

For facilities that may be on the fringes of reliable wireless service areas, or are in transit between networks, the only viable option to maintain connectivity has been using available satellite services – which have been comparatively slow and expensive, and often difficult to manage.

Legacy satellite connectivity utilizes antennas that must move to track satellites for any mobility application. This requires a great deal of precision and constant adjustment to acquire and maintain consistent connectivity. Current Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and future Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations require tracking capabilities to maintain connectivity during the interval between satellite passes. Otherwise it would force data transmissions to be handled in batches rather than as a consistent stream. While this batch processing may work well for simple telematics and sensor information, if the application requires interactive management, video, or other time-sensitive data transmission, an expensive and complicated multi-axis stabilized or gyro-mounted Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) would be required.

For maritime, remote, and offshore applications, IoT has become a choice of the least-worst option to maintain mission-critical communications. Further exacerbating the situation is the human factor. Crew and passengers expect access to the internet as a part of everyday life – something that is not easy or inexpensive using the existing network service delivery models.

However, new technologies and business models are beginning to redefine the way IoT connectivity has been handled. Taking the best from both wireless and satellite solutions—while adding new software steered flat-panel antenna technology for reliable automated satellite connection management—the hybrid wireless/satellite approach is gaining momentum. This integrated solution creates a single connectivity node to manage all network connections and traffic routing. The system seamlessly balances traffic across the best transmission path with the least operating cost. This strategy—combined with usage-based billing—keeps costs under control while assuring reliable connectivity.

In a real-world deployment, it’s easy to see how an integrated connectivity solution can succeed. For example, an oceangoing vessel that uses this hybrid platform would have broadband connectivity using a wireless network while in port, and then switch to satellite technology as it sails out of range. The system would then automatically switch back to the local wireless network when approaching the next port. All of this happens without any human intervention, such as switching SIM cards, reconfiguring equipment, or tuning satellite dishes. In essence, connectivity in geographically remote areas occurs automatically, much in the same way a consumer cellphone maintains connection while driving down a freeway. The hybridization of networking technologies also provides inherent failover protection which significantly increases uptime and resilience.

The growth of IoT services has been embraced by both industry and consumers, but in fairness, it has caused havoc on capacity-constrained network operators whose business is predicated on delivering reliable, seamless bandwidth. The problem is exacerbated in remote areas, where demand is just as high, but reliable wireless capacity is scarce. Integrating available wireless with low-cost satellite bandwidth in an automated, turnkey solution represents a new approach that can satisfy both the existing and long-term demands of businesses.


The IoT Evolution Expo, and collocated events, IoT Evolution Health, LPWAN Expo, The Smart City Event, and IIoT Conference, will take place Jan. 29 to Feb 1 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Visit IoTEvolutionExpo.com to register now.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Ericsson and Swisscom Team Up on European Commercial 5G

By: Ken Briodagh    4/18/2019

Swisscom consumers will have commercial 5G services in 54 cities and communities across Switzerland, enabled by Ericsson's 5G network features

Read More

Wireless Broadband Alliance and Mettis Aerospace Announce Wi-Fi 6 IoT Trial

By: Ken Briodagh    4/17/2019

The Wireless Broadband Alliance recently announced its first Wi-Fi 6 Industrial Enterprise and IoT trial, as part of its ongoing Wi-Fi 6 program.

Read More

Optimizing Industrial Assets Through IoT

By: Ken Briodagh    4/17/2019

Coming up next week is a webinar sponsored by Bsquare that will focus in on IIoT assets and how they can be optimized for ideal value from the analyti…

Read More

Digi International Brings CAT11 to Enterprise Cellular Extenders with Digi EX15

By: Ken Briodagh    4/16/2019

CAT11-capable Cellular Extender Provides LTE Connectivity for Business Continuity in the Storefront, Branch Office and Beyond

Read More

Polte Adds IoT Entrepreneur Daniel Collins to Advisory Board

By: Ken Briodagh    4/16/2019

Co-Founder of Jasper Technologies Brings More Than Three Decades Experience in Telecommunications from Cisco, Alcatel, AT&T and Ericsson

Read More