In 1941, Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr applied for the U.S. patent that lies at the heart of wireless communications. Though used in military applications during the second World War, it wouldn’t be until the 1980s that cellular technology would become broadly available.
Boldly imagining new uses for the technology originally developed to facilitate person-to-person communications, in 1995, Siemens introduced the first cellular module built for Machine-to-Machine communications – sparking a surge in mobile applications, particularly fleet and container tracking, and even consumer telematics, with the introduction of OnStar in 1995.
Connecting mobile assets complicated the network picture. The benefits that cellular provided to the remote monitoring and asset tracking applications proved to be game changing as well as cost saving. By leveraging public cellular networks, not only can you monitor assets on the move, but you can also eliminate the cost associated with building out and managing your own wired infrastructure.
These cellular networks were designed for person-to-person voice communications. Lucky for the network carriers, consumers were okay with replacing their cell phones every two years (at the most) and bringing failed systems back to the store for service, when needed – like battery replacement. Unfortunately, machine communications has more stringent requirements. When it comes to connecting utility meters, for example, power companies expect equipment to operate reliably, anywhere, for as long as 15 years, often times in harsh environmental conditions, and more often than not on battery power. These devices are expected to be available without changes for supply lifetimes of 10-20 years.
We’re now at the stage where cellular operators are voluntarily shutting down the earliest 2G networks and driving M2M/IoT customers to not only upgrade their physical devices. Moreover, as current consumer networks offer bandwidth beyond what is generally needed for M2M and industrial IoT applications – the global carrier community is looking to variants of LTE and even years forward to 5G to address this disconnect.
MultiTech provides devices that leverage the latest in Cellular technology to address the needs of M2M and IoT applications, while facilitating the transition from legacy network technology to the network technology that promises to carry applications through the next 20 years.