How cellular IoT is changing the fleet management industry

Learn how certain cellular IoT features like network redundancy are changing the fleet management landscape
Maggie Murphy
May 17, 2022
fleet of connected vehicles on the move

Whether it’s a fleet of cars, trucks, boats, or airplanes, one thing remains the same: these assets are on the move, and if they’re using IoT-enabled devices, they need coverage that never drops. WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity require proximity to a router or cellular-connected device. GPS has signal penetration issues, and cellular connectivity through a single carrier can mean downtime when you aren’t in range of one of their cell towers. So, what is the solution? Enter the concept of network redundancy. Here we will explain how cellular connectivity companies that allow devices to connect to multiple carriers can ensure seamless connectivity for all fleet management solutions.

Recommended reading: How IoT connectivity helps solve fleet management challenges

What’s the difference between an MVNO and MNO?

The two main types of companies fleets use for cellular connectivity are MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) and MNOs (Mobile Network Operators). While both provide cellular connectivity for IoT devices, they don’t offer the same services. Imagine you want cookies. You could buy some directly from a cookie company or buy your cookies from the grocery store. If you buy them from the cookie company, you can only choose from the limited selection of cookies that brand makes. But, if you buy your cookies from the grocery store, you can choose from all the variations of cookies across many different brands. In this situation, the cookie manufacturer is the MNO, and the grocery store is the MVNO. Let’s explore in more detail what differentiates these two types of companies.

What is an MNO (Mobile Network Operator)?

A Mobile Network Operator is a wireless telecommunications company that owns a radio spectrum license or that controls access to that license. The MNO has all of the infrastructure in place in order to sell and deliver connectivity to customers. This often includes services such as billing, marketing, customer service, and provisioning as well as the wireless network.

Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are all commonly used MNOs in the United States.

It is important to note that every MNO has a list of carriers they have partnerships with, and your device will only connect to those on the partnership list. To connect to other cellular networks, you would need specialized components on your SIM card.

What is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)?

The Mobile Virtual Network Operator is essentially a reseller of wireless technology. It doesn't own its own radio network but buys services from a Mobile Network Operator such as AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, and then resells its services to consumers or businesses.

What makes this business model successful is that these companies can offer better prices to select audiences.

How does an MVNO provide network redundancy?

An MVNO is able to provide its customers with access to multiple local networks through a single IoT SIM card. This SIM card automatically prioritizes the best available connection. This built-in network redundancy means that if there’s ever a weak signal — or even a downed tower — the IoT device owner will never notice because the SIM card will automatically switch carriers connecting the device to the strongest available signal.

Now, not every MVNO is the same or has contracts with the same network providers. The more networks that an MVNO works with, the more carriers their SIM will be able to connect to should it need to switch to a stronger signal.

Why do fleet management devices need network redundancy?

Having built-in network redundancy and access to multiple carriers on a single SIM card is critical for fleet management devices. This ensures that fleets that move around the world never lose connection or critical data. It means fleet managers only have to work with one company to access multiple carriers, and it helps fleets scale quickly.

Fleets are constantly on the move

If you are monitoring the driving behavior of a fleet of trucks as they move across the country, it won’t be helpful to you if you lose chunks of data every time the connected IoT device goes offline. Fleets need connectivity that stays online whether they are in a different state, on a remote country road, or the other side of the globe. Getting connectivity through a company that offers network redundancy no matter where you operate means there will always be a reliable connection as fleets travel between coverage areas.

Recommended reading: Keeping RVs connected, no matter where they roam

A future-proofed connectivity solution

Additionally, with an eUICC-enabled SIM, like the Hyper SIM, not only is carrier switching hands-off and hassle-free — so is updating devices in the field. Fleets are often spread out all over the globe, which can make it nearly impossible to swap out SIMs to update them with new carriers. With an eUICC-enabled SIM, you’ll never have to recall your fleet to add new carriers. Instead, it can be updated remotely.

With centralized profile management, you can store multiple profiles on a single eUICC-enabled card or eSIM. You can preload your devices with the profiles they will need as they move from one continent to another. It's like having a passport filled with visas to enter all the countries you'll visit on an international trip.

But what happens when a device is recalled from the field and redeployed in another region? Or when IoT sensors on shipping containers are rerouted through an unanticipated region? In situations like these, or in cases where you've switched service providers, eUICC enables you to add, delete, and manage profiles remotely. Device firmware also downloads over the air, meaning eUICC-equipped devices are self-improving and prepared for network sunsets and other changes.

Recommended reading: What’s the 3G sunset and how will it affect existing IoT deployments?

A single point of contact for multiple carriers

Working one-on-one with multiple carriers is cumbersome and expensive; it means multiple carrier contract negotiations, which can be frustrating and result in a costly deployment. When you work with an MVNO, they take on the burden of managing the relationship with multiple carriers — and when you work with a company like Hologram, that means you end up only paying one global rate.

Stay connected with Hologram’s multi-carrier network

Trust your IoT fleet with our dependable cellular network, featuring automatic, agnostic carrier switching. Hologram's SIM card offers seamless, global coverage for IoT devices with access to 2G/3G/4G/LTE and CAT-M technologies. Available in 200 countries with automatic carrier switching across 470+ carriers, with Hologram SIM cards, your devices will never go dark. Get connected today.

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