How to choose the right family of cellular router

When you go to a company that sells industrial routers, the first thing that you have to do is decide which family of industrial routers in right for you.

To help a customer get to the right family of router, there are generally four key questions everyone needs to ask. In this article, we are going to go over each and why.

The first, and most important, question we ask is this:

  1. Which physical interfaces are you trying to connect to and how many of each do you need?
    This is the best filter to start with because often times there will be one of two scenarios:

    1. You have an existing application with existing interfaces that you need to connect and you don’t want to rewire it, or
    2. You are planning an application and therefore you need to find the best one-box solution for your application.

    Say you have purchased a PLC and it can only be connected via RJ45, serial port, DB9, or wi-fi. You will want to make sure the cellular router you choose fits this interface.

    Or, imagine you have a lottery terminal or kiosk and you need to connect to a printer and to a terminal via Ethernet. That would require two Ethernet ports. You don’t want to have to buy a cellular device for both the printer and the terminal.

  1. Do you have an application that transfers a lot of data? (bandwidth)

    Different applications require different amounts of data per transfer, and at different points. Depending on your application, you may not need to pay or support the latest, fastest data speed technology.

    The below image provides a great example:

    Standards Evolution and Assumed Market Entry
    If you have an application related to smartphones, automotive, premium infotainment, telematic broadband, video billboards, and connected cameras, then you will most definitely have much data to transfer, making it necessary to invest in the latest high speed data transfer technology.

    If, however, you are dealing with applications that may not require as much bandwidth like point-of-sale (PoS), metering, wearables, smart city, smart infrastructure, connected retail public services and/or governmental/fire/police, then you may not need to allocate budget for the latest high speed data transfer technology.

    The key is to understand how much data you need to send how often. If you are continuously sending multiple megabits per second, then you may need to consider safeguarding your investment by looking into the latest technology.

  1. Do you need to run special/custom actions on the router?

    This is an option that most may be unaware of but can have a great impact on whether you’re choosing the right cellular router for your application, especially if it involves the need for minor adjustments in the future.

    Most cellular routers aren’t built to do more than just transfer the data you need to its intended destination over a wireless network. There are cellular routers, however, that are built to do more, such as simplify the path from sensor to control center by eliminating additional equipment, or add features that wouldn’t normally be possible without significant time and energy.

    Ultimately, they allow the router to seamlessly adapt to your application without having to invest in additional pieces of hardware.

    The majority of our cellular routers at B+B Smartworx are equipped with the ability to run custom user applications (or apps for short). These routers can run custom applications that can:

    • Enhance the router’s hardware
    • Enhance the router’s software
    • Simulate protocol conversions
    • Enhance/add security functions
    • And more

    If you know that your current project is going to require a lot more than just a cellular router to achieve the intended objective, such as protocol conversion and additional security features, then you should consider investing in a cellular router with a higher CPU and memory, which, apart from the open Linux platform, enables a cellular router to run many different custom user apps simultaneously, be it right away or in the future when another upgrade or adjustment is made.

    To learn more about custom user applications/modules and to see a sample of what’s immediately available, click here.

  1. Where will you deploy your router?

    While this question may seem irrelevant, it is actually an important consideration. You want to ensure that the cellular router you are purchasing is certified to work with the carriers available in the applications geographical region.

    This is often cited as one of the driving reasons to purchase a cellular router in the first place as building your own linux box with a cellular card will still require certification, which requires multiple reviews and high submission fees.

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