Have you started thinking about using the cellular network as a connection path for your IoT device or datalogger? If you are based in North America and you are not deploying hundreds of devices, you will want to read on.
The North American carriers continue to lag behind the Europeans and the rest of the world in making it easy to get a device or a handful of 3G or 4G devices on their networks. The concept is simple: get a SIM card with a data plan and your data should be accessible right away. This is not really the case in North America. The US carriers can get your iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet up and running with very little effort. But ask them about a SIM card for a cellular modem or cellular enabled data logger, and you will be met with a blank stare.
Even if you get a representative who claims to understand what you are talking about, the odds that you get your device operating on the network the first time are less than 5% in my experience. The main reason is that the carriers’ business/billing systems are in the way. Sure, if you are talking with an AT&T account rep about your project for a 500,000 + device deployment, you will have the right attention. If you are trying to get 10 devices that are monitoring critical levels of toxic vapors in remediated basements, you will be left on your own to figure it out.
I have spent HOURS on the phone with customers and cellular technical support trying to get the business side of their accounts provisioned correctly so that alarm text messages, e-mailed data files and remote access is operating from their data logger. It always comes down to the same road block – the backend business system, the side that counts the bits you are using so that you can be charged for it, is not set up for a data logger.
Well, I’ve solved my problem and will no longer have to spend hours on the phone helping customers get their data plans properly configured. To cut out the hassle and provide better service, we have started re-selling SIM cards with data and text message plans both with static/public IP addresses, and standard dynamic IP addresses. That part of my life is now a whole lot easier. If that can help you out as well, let us know!