M2M Cellular Modem Installations- Which Carrier has the best coverage?
Solution: Cell Tower Tester -The Squid
Growth in the M2M market has been driven by lower cost cellular modems that are multi-band and have become relatively straightforward to integrate into everything from Electric Vehicle Chargers, ATM’s, Kiosks, smart meters, and used in numerous other remote monitoring applications. Several estimates have noted over 1.5 Billion M2M connections within the next ten years. Hundreds of thousands of M2M cellular modems will need to be installed over the next few years and installation cannot be left to a contractors best guess for a location. Costs are certainly important, but signal coverage, antenna placement and data thru-put are also important factors to consider when installing a cellular modem. Electrical contractors need to decide if they will install a particular cellular modem and commit to a particular carriers service (ie Sprint (CDMA PCS), AT&T (UMTS, GSM, GPRS), T-Mobile…) Carriers offer numerous plans, many of which can be as affordable as $10 per month for data only. The average cellular modem does not experience the industry’s typical ‘churn’ that a mobile phone carrier faces; where every two years, consumers ‘carrier hop’, driven by the mobile phones latest features. In contrast, a typical cellular modem installation will not change carriers for at least five years. There are no effective methods to determine the best carrier short of depending upon the 5 bars on a cell phone. All of the carriers put out color-coded coverage maps to give you an idea of how well they cover a given area. As you compare carriers one quickly learns they establish geographic competitive advantages by strategically placing cell towers along densely populated stretches, cities and areas that will maximize customers. They also tend to focus build-out in markets their competition does not have coverage. All of this leaves one with the same question when installing a cellular modem; how do I know which carrier has the best coverage at a given location?
Berkeley Varitronics Systems, Inc. of Metuchen, New Jersey is developing an advanced tool called The Squid cell tower tester that effectively simplifies the process of determining signal strength coverage by scanning multiple carrier bands and determining which carrier has the top coverage. Carriers are listed from best to worst with an associated signal strength measurement.
With The Squid, installers will not need to guesstimate which carrier has the best coverage, but rather can quickly measure the actual signal coverage at each independent site to provide the answer to the question: Which carrier has the best coverage? At the end of the day only The Squid can answer that question.