How to select hardware for an IoT device

One of the first steps in building an IoT device starts with selecting the right hardware. Ask a few key questions to ensure you select the right option.
Sara Shoemake
December 19, 2022
IoT devices and SIM cards

One of the first steps in building an IoT device starts with selecting the right development hardware and modem. There are so many brands and options to select from that it can be difficult to know where to begin. We’ve found that there are some questions you should ask to narrow down your choices and ensure that you select the right IoT hardware for your device.

Is the IoT hardware locked?

When a modem is purchased directly from a single carrier, or MNO, it can often only be used by that specific carrier. Every device should come with documentation that you can check to ensure it isn’t designed to work with just one carrier. Be sure to review this documentation — especially if you bought the hardware at a very steep discount.

What IoT device certifications do I need to consider?

Device certification processes ensure that all devices operating on a cellular network will comply with defined security and interoperability standards. There are a few types of critical certifications that may affect your choice in hardware.

First, always check the required certifications for the region or country you plan to deploy in. Many countries and regions have specific requirements that may affect your hardware selection.

Originally developed to meet wireless operating standards in North America, PTCRB certification is now a standard requirement. Over 15,000 are already certified, and it’s simple to check online. If your device is not pre-certified, you can submit for evaluation.

You should also look at specific carrier certifications. In addition to PTCRB or other regional certifications, some mobile network operators (MNOs) also require that devices undergo their own certification process to access their networks.

While you will likely still need to certify the end device, many MNOs have a list of pre-approved modules. Choosing a pre-approved module can simplify the overall process and speed up the time it takes to achieve certification on your end device. Your connectivity provider should be able to provide you with information on the specific certification process.

Will the hardware work in the country I plan to deploy in?

Not all modems will work just anywhere in the world — some will only work in certain countries or regions.

You may be able to see this in the device documentation. Some brands like uBlox, Sequans, SIMCOM, or Huawei print it directly on the metal can. You can also check this by looking at what bands, or specific ranges of radio frequency, the device supports against those that are supported in the country you plan to deploy in. (Ex: B3, B8, etc.)

Does the hardware support SMS?

In order to unlock the full flexibility of eUICC, modems should support SMS messaging in some capacity. If you’re unsure, your connectivity provider should be able to test this for you.

Does the hardware enable roaming?

Roaming means the device has the ability to function outside of the home network. You should also be able to set the APN. Depending on the connectivity solution your deployment requires, this could be an important factor to consider.

What form factor of SIM do I need?

Although it may seem simple, it's important to check what size of SIM card the device requires. This should be listed in the device documentation, as well. Note that some embedded MFF2 cards are soldered onto the board and require a “bring your own carrier” solution, though not all providers support this.

How can I check that my device is ready to connect?

Testing depends on your connectivity provider. Hologram’s global IoT SIM cards are hardware agnostic. However, as you get further into IoT development, this help center article outlines how you can check that your device is ready to connect to our network.

Connect any device, anywhere

Hologram’s eUICC-enabled Hyper SIMs give you the confidence and flexibility to scale with ease. You’ll reduce the complexity of IoT connectivity with a single global SIM card for your entire fleet, and protect your business from a changing connectivity landscape. Plus, there’s no need to swap SIMs to tailor coverage — complete over-the-air updates with ease.

Get started with Hologram today

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