With many Tier One (nation-wide) wireless carriers now offering machine-to-machine (M2M) services, there is a misconception that introducing a new M2M device is a quick, simple and relatively inexpensive process. In truth, the wireless equation involves much more than just signing a commercial wireless data contract, inserting a SIM card and powering up a new M2M device – there is no "Easy Button." Mission-critical applications bring unique requirements that go well beyond basic connectivity, hence the need for specialized M2M-specific providers to guide aspiring application solution providers through the process.
Several steps need to take place before a device can "go live" in a carrier's production network – the same used by millions of consumer devices every day. First, let's start with testing; because testing assures the proper operation of your device under real-world conditions, and it is a crucial part of ensuring that your IP- and SMS-based applications work as intended on the network. Similarly, since proper network performance and use-capacity are critical components of optimized M2M solution design, testing will ensure proper operation while avoiding the following surprises: unwanted interference with other devices or the network itself, higher than expected data consumption, connectivity issues or other unintended consequences. This ensures a higher probability of success when taking the next step – device certification with the carrier operators in question.
Device certification is one of the most overlooked steps in launching an M2M product. Because North American network operators have evolved quickly by acquisition and integration of multiple networks, they have very stringent regulations relating to the certification of devices on their networks, especially as trends such as the move from 'single band only' rules (1900MHz) evolve into the incorporation of dual band technologies, including the 850 MHz band. In such scenarios, users of non-approved devices may find themselves in the unfortunate position where their systems stop working from day-to-day or even worse where carriers cease a device's communication as a result of lack of certification. This is the M2M equivalent of a death sentence for a solution provider with customers relying on their devices connecting as intended so that the applications can function as designed.
Third, it is important to implement a dedicated technical interconnect into the network or networks it is to operate on. This can be done through a VPN or SMS interconnect, with IP addresses hard-coded into the device for added security. Finally, it's time to choose the desired network provider and a data plan that fits the solution provider's needs. Will the device be in a fixed location at all times? Will it need inter or intra-country roaming and/or global wireless plans? These are all important factors to consider both in the design and the certification process.
To get to market quickly, KORE can help. KORE offers a certification program run by dedicated personnel who have experience getting more than 500 unique devices certified on various carrier networks using a simple, well-documented and streamlined process to execute each step flawlessly and with the minimum amount of investment required. Leveraging the expertise of a partner like KORE can prevent a solution provider from missing launch milestones and crying all the way home.
By Paul Eberling, Manager, Product Approvals
Paul has been with KORE for 6 years managing and developing the M2M certification process and providing the streamlined liaison between clients, test labs and Operators. He was instrumental in the creation of a certification database tracking and listing hundreds of M2M devices that are utilized by KORE today. With over 22 years of wireless experience, his career experience spans everything from tower engineering to microwave and broadband wireless networks to managing an FCC Certification lab as well as representation on the PTCRB Certification Board where he currently sits as a full active member.