With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations are looking for technologies to better communicate with machines. Cellular technologies are a primary choice for this purpose, but the networks that organizations choose often makes all the difference in quality of service, features and especially pricing.
Traditional carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have made names for themselves in the consumer market, powering smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices. For these companies, machine-to-machine (M2M) has always been a secondary business, one that’s worth their time to service from a monetary standpoint, but not worth their investment in technologies more closely aligned to the needs of M2M for business.
That’s why organizations requiring wireless connectivity to support M2M solutions need to look at providers with networks and services built and designed specifically for M2M applications.
Here are five benefits of using a dedicated M2M network.
1) Fewer crowds: Superior performance is critical in an M2M network; you can’t afford to have to send signals repeatedly just because the network is overrun with consumer traffic. An M2M network dedicated solely to transporting M2M traffic won’t experience the delays caused by crowds of consumer handsets. The lower latency of an M2M-dedicated network means you’ll be able to rely on mission-critical transmissions to get through the first time. This is not likely to be the case for cellular providers that make the majority of their revenue off consumer devices; that traffic invariably takes priority over M2M.
M2M providers with their own networks also have tools designed specifically for monitoring traffic. M2M portals provide transparency into the data being generated by devices, allowing you to quickly diagnose any issues that may arise. Through a portal dashboard, it’s easy to monitor activity and control usage, which helps you to manage costs and avoid overages.
2) Knowledgeable support: A provider with a network operations center (NOC) support team that deals only with M2M-related issues is going to be more knowledgeable about M2M devices and connectivity issues than the team on a consumer cellular help desk.
A M2M provider’s remote troubleshooting tools are also able to significantly improve your ability to deal with problems that arise, while reducing or eliminating the costs of dispatching a technician to a remote site.
3) Flexible plans: Since they are designed to match the needs of your business and its devices, M2M solutions require more flexible pricing options than consumer cellular plans. More than looking at per-device data plans that offer a fixed amount of data per month, which is often the case with consumer devices, with some M2M applications, pay-per-use rate plans can be more cost effective. Pay-per-use plans self-adjust according to the exact amount of data each device uses each month. For example, if data usage fluctuates each month due to a variety of reasons such as seasonality, firmware updates, etc., then pay-per-use could be more cost effective then fixed-per-device rate plans.
However, some M2M providers offer pooling plans, which benefit organizations with a large number of devices that have a wide variety of usage profiles. Pooling allows you to “pool” data between devices, in order to help you to avoid costly overages.
4) Billing options: M2M providers with their own networks and billing systems have the ability to change plans in the middle of a billing cycle. This mid-cycle billing option makes it easy to scale usage up or down as needed. Some M2M providers even offer options to pay-as-you-go, pay upfront for multiple years at a time and take advantage of event-based billing.
5) Customizable supply chain and distribution features: Unlike consumer handsets, M2M devices are sometimes used only sporadically. For example, agricultural devices are often out of use during the non-growing season, and telehealth devices are only used when needed. M2M plans that include a suspend feature allow you to suspend service during these downtimes and only pay for the months when the device is actually in use.
The ability to test and distribute M2M applications without incurring a monthly charge is also a benefit of using an M2M provider with its own network. Charges only begin when the device is deployed for commercial use, at which time it converts to billable status.
M2M providers that own and operate their own cellular network designed exclusively for machines offer greater flexibility than traditional cellular carriers. The result is the ability to tailor solutions that perform better, cost less and are better aligned with your business model.
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