Innovation drives markets and then drives further innovation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a perfect example. By allowing autonomous devices to speak to one another, the IoT is generating an incredible explosion of new ideas, new products and systems, and enormous potential profits. The missing piece has been an efficient and cost-effective way of connecting millions of new devices to networks, and doing that on the cellular network is the next big thing.
The cellular network – fast, reliable, and available virtually everywhere – has been in place for years. But there have been challenges in utilizing it for IoT applications. The first was to make it affordable for potentially billions of devices that don’t need the kind of bandwidth that smartphones need. Second, IoT devices will be installed everywhere, in some cases, temporary, remote, or totally off-the-grid locations. They won’t have humans to charge them daily, so they need to sip, rather than guzzle power.
In other words, the cellular services and cellular modems created for phones (smart or otherwise) are too costly and power-hungry for IoT applications, and that could have turned into a sinkhole blocking development of the IoT. But as stated above, markets drive innovation, so cellular service providers came up with a new standard. Cat M1 cellular service is custom made for low-power, lower-bandwidth IoT applications. IoT cellular service will cost less to use than previously available services and will be available in Q1 of 2017. Designers are chomping at the bit to access the new service, but they will need Cat M1 modems to do so. Vendors like NimbeLink have been hard at work developing them.
Like all cellular modems, Cat M1 modems will require end-device-certification, which requires extensive testing and can take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars to obtain. NimbeLink’s Skywire® Cat M1 modem is the first (and so far, only) modem in the industry to receive that certification. And, as with any modem, integrating Cat M1 into a product will require some engineering. The problem there is that product developers already have their hands full with other aspects of design to bring innovative IoT products to market. Adding cellular network connectivity to an already full plate just increases the load and delays product introduction.
At NimbeLink we know that being first to market with new modems is just the beginning. We have to help our customers do the same with their products. If tech companies have learned one thing about getting into new or fast changing markets, it’s that being first (as long as you don’t cut corners) is worth a lot. First movers command higher margins. They get to define markets. They get feedback from early adopters that they can use to develop better products. And that’s where NimbeLink can help.
Along with being the first to receive certification of Cat M1 modems we will be offering development kits, microprocessor shields, free software libraries and complete documentation to simplify the process of adding connectivity to customers to help speed new IoT products to market. Cat M1 design documents are already available on the NimbeLink website. If you have questions about the modems or how they can help get your products to market, contact us at 612-285-3433.