Both mobile networks and wi-fi connections have their advantages for industrial IoT projects (Internet of Things). They are the two most widely used connection methods for industrial IoT projects.
Although many previous industrial IoT projects used to rely on wi-fi, mobile networks have gained popularity. Are you wondering why? The reason is that mobile networks are better suited to handle various applications. Due to constant innovation, choosing the best technology for your wireless access in the industrial IoT project is becoming increasingly difficult.
In this blog, you will learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems. Thus, you will be able to make the best choice for your industrial IoT project.
Mobile Networks vs. Wi-Fi for Industrial IoT Projects - A Brief Comparison
Mobile networks are somewhat more expensive due to some network providers’ fees, roaming fees (as far as foreign countries are concerned), and cost uncertainty in the future. However, for industrial IoT projects overall, mobile networks are always cheaper.
It is cheaper than mobile. However, when making this comparison, you should also consider the cost of maintaining and managing the wi-fi network as part of the cost per device. These costs are incurred if you decide not to use mobile networks. It is important to understand how both types of connectivity affect the total cost of ownership of your industrial IoT project.
Reliability & Security
Part of what you pay for in your mobile contracts is first-class security and reliability. Experienced cybersecurity specialists support security.
It is possible to achieve comparable security and reliability. However, the owners of the wi-fi network and the property management teams must continuously work on these areas. Connecting to your own wi-fi network generally provides a less stable network than a mobile solution.
With the development of 4G and 5G, the data throughput of cellular networks can be equivalent to wi-fi.
Traditionally, wi-fi is faster for industrial IoT projects than mobile networks. However, the protocols you use for data transmission also influence the speed of the data throughput.
If your device is out of wi-fi range, mobile networks are better for determining the approximate location of your device.
There is not much difference between accurate location determination via wi-fi and a mobile network. In any case, determining the location via wi-fi SSIDs or cellular towers requires the integration of third-party providers that deliver location estimates based on a geographic database of network IDs.
If you are planning to track moving things, such as vehicles, or objects that are used in remote locations, then mobile networks have very good network coverage globally.
The user has to provide the coverage himself. Coverage can be ensured for a previously defined environment that is accessible to the user.
Compared to wi-fi, it is much easier to install fleets of mobile networks. On condition that the connected device has cellular reception, it is automatically connected to the network.
For wi-fi devices, you may need to set up your network first. Likewise, you may need to manage access to the network with usernames and passwords for each device.
What are the Advantages of Mobile Networks Compared to Wi-Fi in Industrial IoT Projects, for OEMs or Tool Management?
- Mobile networks offer better data protection and more security through automatic encryption.
- The cellular service provides broader coverage without a fixed range because you do not need local infrastructure. This is important for remote sites such as tool production facilities. These can also be external, for example, at the supplier’s premises.
- Obstacles do not easily block deeper mobile signal coverage.
- Mobile networks are usually more suitable for industrial IoT projects with low power consumption and few requirements.
- They are not dependent on the end user, as there are, for example, no password change problems.
- Furthermore, there are also no signal degradation problems because situations such as too many devices being connected to one router cannot arise.
Why Do mainly Mobile Networks Work for the OEM in Industrial IoT Projects?
Mainly mobile networks work for the OEM or plastic parts purchaser since the moulds are usually produced by suppliers where no wi-fi is available for the OEM.
In case the supplier grants the OEM access to the wi-fi, several problems arise. These are, for example, security challenges or changing passwords.
However, a disadvantage of this solution is the cost issue. Nevertheless, we counter this with low data volumes and globally managed, constantly optimized contract management with the mobile network providers.