Mobile phone mast

GSM Communications Tower

GSM

One of the transmission methods that has become popular in the SCADA and M2M market over the last few years is using the mobile phone network. Traditional means of wireless communications had become expensive and companies began to realise that the cellular network could be used as an alternative. Hardware costs have begun to fall, in particular the cost of GSM modems and this has led to more manufacturers entering the market. Data rates are small and can be easily accommodated by a cellular network. The predicted growth of M2M Communications and the Internet of things (IoT) has seen the big mobile phone operators now offer the technology  as a core service. The evolution of 4G and LTE advanced networks means data will be sent over a packet based network with web enabled IP connectivity. Improved latency levels in LTE advanced networks and higher bandwidth will ensure that mission critical applications can be accommodated by the operators.

 

Devices

There a numerous devices currently on the market that come with GPRS, 2G,3G ,4G as well as Wireless Ethernet capabilities. These come with Analogue, Digital, Relay Control, Serial and USB Communications interfaces. They come in embedded and boxed formats. While initially the market was hesitant about using mobile networks for data communications, they have gradually adopted to the technology with some of the biggest corporations in the world now using it.

Data Sims with various plans are now available. Usually a sim is purchased with a data plan or on a Pay as You Go basis. A typical example would be a 10Mb monthly allowance for standard data but this could rise significantly if video images are being sent over a mobile network. Companies are offering managed VPN networks with a fixed public or private IP address. Some companies offer hardware that comes with a data plan included much like a mobile phone that comes with x amount of free minutes or data.

Contrive GSM Control unit

 

Applications

Typical applications include Energy, Environmental, Marine and Agricultural industries with the hardware operating either as a stand alone communications device or as a back-up to the main network.  For example mobile technology is usually used as a back-up service for video surveillance while Cattle monitoring can be done primarily using mobile or satellite technology

Costs

Hardware costs vary depending on manufacturer. They can be as low as 130 euro to over 1000 euro depending on the type, quality and functionality required.  You will need a subscription with a mobile operator and this can typically be 5-7 euros per month for a typical 10 Mb data plan with a fixed IP address. Telecommunications companies have roaming agreements in place with other operators if coverage is poor or if travelling between countries.  Atlantic Wireless Telecommunications supply hardware manufactured by Viola Systems and Digi International.  Both their products are heavy duty, industrial grade, robust and manufactured for specific applications.  Sim cards are available from Vodafone and O2.  Please call or email us for more details.