It’s important to find a provider with a carrier-grade infrastructure that is geographically redundant, which ensures faster speed to get you up and running under any conditions. In a geographically redundant system, critical infrastructure is located in multiple countries to ensure survival of a system in the face of catastrophe, whether by human intervention such as political unrest or by a natural disaster.
You should also look for providers that have fault-tolerant data centers with automatic failover. Ideally, look for data centers that tout “five nines” of reliability, or uptime equating to 99.999 percent of the time (less than six minutes of downtime per year). The company should also have a system with no single point of failure, meaning that nowhere in the system is there a single point that could bring down the entire system if it failed.
Strict policies by the European Union for hosting data require carriers to establish controllers in Europe. Carriers that have a European-based data center can more seamlessly provide global M2M solutions; instead of having multiple service providers in the U.S. and overseas, a North American-based provider with a data center in the EU offers a single point of contact for administrative, operational and troubleshooting information.
Providers with a network operations center (NOC) support team that deals only with M2M-related troubleshooting offer better reliability over carriers that also deal with consumer handset and smartphone issues. A carrier-grade data center built from the ground up to support only M2M traffic means lower latency and higher reliability for users.
A provider that owns and operates its own core network elements is able to provide deep network visibility along with tools that aid in troubleshooting and resolving potential device issues halfway around the world. Tools that allow a device to be remotely pinged, registered or located eliminate costly “truck rolls,” service-tech calls resulting from the escalation of a problem to a carrier for resolution.
A provider-owned network also means better control of components such as the Home Location Register (HLR) database, Visitor Location Register (VLR) remote database, and authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) framework. As an integral component of code division multiple access (CDMA) and global system for mobile communications (GSM) networks, the HLR maintains subscriber data such as the features and services. The VLR is a remote database that caches subscriber data relayed from the HLR, eliminating the need to access the HLR every time cellular device information is queried. The AAA controls access to the subscriber information such as billing and policies. Provider control of these components means more seamless service, troubleshooting and security.
Providers using quality of service (QoS) provisioning over a CDMA network are able to better ensure users always remain connected. QoS provisioning looks for the strongest signal available, allowing for hand-off transmission instead of just requiring that users stay in-network.
When looking for a provider, consider future needs as well. Providers that offer application programming interface (API) tools, protocols and routines allow you to extend your M2M capabilities by allowing for the integration of customer-facing applications and back-office solutions. When integrated with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, these APIs provide better data visibility and better cost control. Ideally, look for an M2M provider that offers these APIs free of charge.
Future planning should also include looking for a global service provider that offers service in other countries on different carriers, but with a single Access Point Name (APN). A single APN allows for seamless services from troubleshooting to invoicing to support. A provider offering this scope of services is well-suited to support your organization’s requirements today and into the future.