If you're considering setting up an Internet of Things (IoT) or machine-to-machine communication (M2M) project, you might be wondering whether to connect your devices over a Wi-Fi network or a cellular network.
Here are some good reasons why cellular connectivity — rather than Wi-Fi — is the best choice for many IoT projects.
Greater Range of Service
Cellular networks now cover almost all areas, with picocells even extending coverage to traditional black spots, such as subway stations and large buildings, which means that devices can stay connected to an M2M network from almost anywhere.
In contrast, Wi-Fi networks cover only local areas and aren't always accessible. For example, private networks often require a username and password, while public networks often require users to input personal information in order to register and connect.
Cellular network coverage is generally available, making it a suitable choice for IoT projects involving devices that move around, such as a project that tracks delivery vehicles.
Whereas the cost of connecting to a cellular network was once prohibitively high, data costs have fallen significantly over the last few years. As a result, cellular connectivity is now a viable option for devices that send and receive only modest amounts of data.
For example, machines that simply report basic inventory data use almost negligible amounts of data and can accrue less than a dollar a month in cellular connectivity charges. This could easily be less than the cost of maintaining a Wi-Fi network or troubleshooting problems that devices have when connecting to public networks.
Why Tether Your Project to a Wi-Fi Connection?
If you plan to set up an IoT project, why limit its scope by tethering it to the highly restricted range of a Wi-Fi network? Cellular network coverage is already extremely good and it is getting better all the time. By taking advantage of this existing network, you can give your project the potential to grow far beyond its original range.
Do you have experience of using cellular networks or Wi-Fi for an IoT or M2M project? Share your experiences with firstname.lastname@example.org