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Understanding SIM card requirements for remote device access on the Internet of Things

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The mobile communication network allows devices to be deployed in remote locations that do not have traditional network connections.

Using the 3G & 4G technologies you can control and communicate with CCTV, Access Control and alarm systems.

The communications can be a device reporting back to base over the network or an end user connecting to the device to download surveillance footage for example.

Where the device is communicating back to base this is known as machine to machine (M2M) communication. Another name for this is the Internet of Things (IoT).

The benefits of using the mobile communications network over other technologies include upload speed and cost. Where ADSL is used, the upload speed from the modem is not sufficient to enable smooth CCTV viewing of high resolution cameras in our experience. Where you may look at deploying Fibre, Ethernet over Copper or NBN you need to consider the plan cost and availability of these solutions in your area. 

If you want to log onto the device from your computer or smartphone you need to be able to find the device on the internet.

There are two issues that stand in the way of this connection:

1. You require an Access Point Name (APN) that enables the modem to be able to:
a) access the internet and
b) be accessed over the internet, meaning you can log onto the devices connected to the modem from a computer on the internet.

2. You need to find the device if the Internet Protocol (IP) address changes. This is known as dynamic IP addressing where the IP address will change periodically. If you do not know the IP address of the device you need then you will not find it. In this case you need to subscribe to a service that will keep track of the IP address as it changes. This is known as dynamic domain name service (DDNS)

When you have the correct type of SIM card and the dynamic DNS sorted out then you will require a modem that will support the following:

Dynamic DNS: Where your service provider does not allocate a Static Public IP address, you will need us a Dynamic Domain Name Service and put the service details into the modem so it will update the IP address.

Port Forwarding so you can go from the internet to your devices. This is known as Network Address Translation (NAT). Where you have many devices on the remote network you may require Port Address Translation (PAT) as well.

After you have set up the modem and you are connected to the remote devices you will start to use data. If you do not have the data plan correct you can quickly run up a huge excess usage charges and suffer from Bill Shock!!
Data Plans:
Right sizing your data plan requires some thinking into the amount of data you will be processing and the frequency of use. Where you are connecting to an access control / alarm security system the amount of data will be a lot less than if you are viewing CCTV at Megapixel resolution. You also need to account for spikes in usage where you are getting remote technical support & maintenance carried out on the network.
You need to be able to monitor the usage on the SIM card and change the plan mid cycle to minimise the cost. Normally this is not available to end users and you have to wait for your bill to arrive.

As you can see, there are a number of items to consider when deploying modems on the mobile communications network. We have been deploying these modems for several years and have the battle scars to prove it. Through our experience we have sourced robust, reliable, temperature tolerant industrial modems. We also have a tool where we can monitor the usage of the SIM card fleet in real time and pool the data allowance of like SIM cards together so there is no "Bill Shock" suffered.
We offer a managed service with skilled IT technicians monitoring the data usage of our SIM card fleet to ensure the devices are online and being useful.
If you are considering the deployment of modems for remote device connections then discuss the project with us and we may be able to help. Online Enquiries.

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