Cellular IoT meets Digital Signage

Signage is at least as old as language, and even before widespread literacy signs used pictures to promote their owners’ businesses. But until recently the rule was “one sign = one message.” That changed with the advent of digital signage. Today’s digital signs can change from minute to minute to capture the attention of passers-by. They can be updated periodically to promote new products or offers. They can support time-of-day pricing, last minute offers, or emergency notifications. The challenge is getting new information to sign locations that are often remote from where content is generated.


Wired connections are an option, but wires have to be run and maintained and are subject to breakdowns. Wireless connections eliminate some of the problems, but can require network installation or multi-step sign-ons. And some wireless technologies like Bluetooth, WiFi, and Zigbee have relatively short ranges.

The easiest, most reliable technology for wireless connectivity is, for several reasons, the cellular data network. Cellular service is available almost anywhere a digital sign is likely to appear. As any nine-year-old with a new smartphone can attest, accessing the cellular network is a no-brainer. Because the transmission equipment is owned and maintained by the third party service provider (e.g.: Verizon, AT&T, etc) there’s no need to create or support the network. And with extensive redundancy, nothing beats cellular for wireless reliability.

What that means is that you can deploy signage anywhere and easily access it to update messaging, any time, day or night. Need a promotional sign at a retail location? Unbox it, plug it in, and you’re in business, literally in minutes. Want something outdoors, perhaps along a highway? Power it using solar panels and update it wirelessly.

The very best part is that the cost of cellular connectivity is steadily falling. Cat 1 LTE connectivity costs less than previous 2G, 3G, and 4G options.  Soon-to-be-released LTE Cat M1 will cost even less and consume dramatically less power – enabling longer-lived battery options. And with end-device-certified embedded Skywire modems, getting your digital signage connected to the cellular network is easier than ever.

Firebolt Ltd.,  a world leader in brand display solutions, selected NimbeLink to help design and deliver 13,000 units of cellular-connected point-of-sale TV displays for Miller Beer on a very tight deadline. Click for more information on that project.