What Are the Coverage Options for Tracking Mobile Assets?

man looking at interactive chart in field

Data is the driver of many of today’s business decisions. And it’s not just on the marketing, research and product development side. Critical data accessed about the performance, quality or location of a company’s assets is essential for informing operational activity. When moving assets from place to place, monitoring their progress provides essential information for supply chain management. However, tracking mobile assets presents further challenges of moving through different regions and remaining reliably connected.

Connecting ‘things’ to transfer data can be achieved via long-standing M2M technology or the increasingly favoured method of IoT. Whichever connection solution is used, high-quality network coverage is required to transfer the data to where it is needed, and this can be delivered in a few ways. Each option has differing levels of adoption, availability, affordability, quality, and efficiency. Therefore, choosing the right coverage option for your company’s needs is a fundamental decision for the success and growth of your business activity.

Coverage via wired systems

Connectivity delivered via wired systems is the traditional method of transferring data from one application to another. Wired systems require a physical connection with the network source, providing several advantages. For example, because the connection travels through cables, it is less prone to interference and offers a high level of security. Wired systems can also provide a higher speed than some wireless solutions.

However, because of the physical nature of wired systems, they can be time-consuming and expensive to install. Their use is limited when external coverage is required, particularly for widely distributed assets, and, of course, they are not suitable for tracking mobile assets.

Coverage via wireless systems

Wi-Fi is a form of wireless coverage with which almost all of us are familiar. However, its use is also best for short-range connectivity, generally inside a building. For external coverage, connectivity can be achieved via cellular-based systems, such as NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE for Machine Type Communication (LTE-M). These two technologies were designed to suit the needs of global IoT connectivity, offering a low-cost option for devices in hard-to-reach places.

Working mainly on the 4G network, but also still 3G and 2G networks, cellular-based systems are standardised, more secure than Wi-Fi and managed in the licensed spectrum. However, if assets are on the move, there may be unexpected roaming charges when connecting to the networks of other Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). The consumer infrastructure provided by MNOs may also not be optimised for critical communications.

Coverage via LoRa®

LoRa® (Long Range) connectivity works by using transceivers configured with LoRa® devices embedded into end nodes or sensor devices. These battery-operated ‘things’ connect wirelessly to the internet normally via terrestrial networks and gateways.

LoRa® is an effective method of accessing coverage for IoT devices due to its rapid and cost-efficient deployment over wide areas, two-way communication capability between devices and end-to-end data security. For supply chain and logistics companies, LoRa®-enabled IoT devices and wireless technology offer an easy, affordable, low-power method to track their mobile assets in real-time.

Combing terrestrial LoRa® with satellite systems

Satellite systems can add an extra layer of flexibility for LoRa® ecosystems, offering coverage in areas where terrestrial networks are limited or inaccessible. Satellite services provide an option for backhauling the data transfer, extending the benefits of LoRa® for industries that require access to assets in remote or moving locations, such as maritime, transport and logistics. Solutions that leverage satellite services for their expansive coverage often combine it with terrestrial coverage options to achieve a highly resilient, ubiquitous and agile service at a more affordable rate.

Benefits of our direct-to-satellite, pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network

The advantages of IoT for industries are significant, particularly for companies whose assets are in remote or hard-to-reach areas or on the move. However, it is precisely these kinds of assets that present coverage, availability and reliability challenges for terrestrial connectivity.

EchoStar Mobile is offering the first pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network, allowing direct-to-satellite connectivity from IoT devices. This solution allows existing LoRa®-enabled applications to extend their reach and provides real-time, bi-directional connectivity.

Our pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network leverages satellite coverage provided by the EchoStar XXI geosynchronous satellite. Operating in the licenced S-band spectrum, its ubiquitous, seamless and resilient coverage can cross country borders without the need for additional infrastructure, roaming agreements or subscriptions, enabling millions of mobile assets to connect across Europe, no matter their location.

Cellular-based systems have provided a coverage option for tracking mobile assets for decades, but their use is limited. LoRa® ecosystems offer a solution for overcoming these challenges and unlocking the potential that IoT can deliver.

Download our whitepaper to learn more about the benefits of IoT, LoRa® and our pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network.