What are the advantages of using cellular networks over traditional radio wireless links?
Traditional radio networks use unlicensed 450-900MHz bands for data transmission. These networks can transmit data over long distances, but throughput and penetration ability are relatively low compared with high frequency solutions. In contrast, cellular networking solutions also use low frequency, but with a very different data coding mechanism that achieves high data throughput, long transmission distance and high penetration rate. The choice between unlicensed RF and cellular technology depends on the specific needs of the application. Refer to the chart below to guide your decision-making:
  Cellular Unlicensed RF
Throughput High Low
Penetration High Low
Terrain Resistance Yes Yes
Coverage 30Km radius Hundred meters to few km depending on power output and antenna gain
Initial Costs Low High
Monthly Payment Yes No
Network Quality Varies with ISP Self-dependent

When choosing between cellular or RF, one should consider:
a.) Do I have a one-off budget for this project? If yes, it might be better to use RF over cellular to avoid monthly bills.
b.) If the project requires high bandwidth and stability, then cellular is probably the better choice.

  Can I link my office network with a cellular network?

Office networks typically require a higher level of security, so the simplest way to connect an office network to a mobile network is by purchasing mobile VPN services from an internet service provider (ISP) or carrier. However, most large enterprises want to build and manage their own cellular VPN. If this is case, users should choose a cellular RTU that supports IPSec for building up a VPN.

  How do I choose the right data plan if I wish to use a cellular network?

Like choosing your personal mobile phone plan, it is essential to plan how much data you will use each month before adopting a cellular-based monitoring system. In cellular networking, every packet sent costs money. Most carriers offer special packages for limited data use, however, they also penalize over-usage, sometimes without any charge caps. This means your monthly fees might spin out of control. It is therefore important to accurately project the data use per month and select the right data plan.

  How do I effectively reduce data traffic?

Every packet counts in cellular communications, so traffic management is vital in reducing overall expenses. LAN environments have the bandwidth to use polling architecture for data acquisition. However, polling over cellular networks is unwise because it wastes network bandwidth. Active communications is the best solution for cellular communications. It reduces bandwidth consumption, and minimizes the chance of data response timeout or dropping data.

  Does cellular also work well for mobile DAQ systems?

Yes, cellular is particularly useful for moving DAQ systems. Cellular networks have fast handover speeds of less than 1-3 seconds, which makes seamless DAQ communication possible.

  Why is my cellular DAQ system constantly dropping off the network?

There are a number of factors that will cause the cellular link to drop. For example, if a connection is idle for a period of time, the carrier may automatically disconnect you to save system resources. Also, if too many people in one area are trying to use the same base station, the carrier may cut off some connections to make space for other users to log into the network. Disconnections are a critical issue for cellular DAQ systems, because they are normally located in difficult-to-reach areas. A communication failure wastes resources and forces engineers to travel to the field site just to reboot the device. RTUs with the ability to self-restore their own cellular connection through a reboot or restart of the cellular interface can prevent these costly service interruptions.

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