Future proof? How can you make a product future proof? Assuming, that is, you don’t have a crystal ball in full working order and you’re not a dab hand at reading tea leaves, (writes Kevin McCall, Solutions Development Manager at Vianet).
When I set about designing the Vitel Mk8 NANO and Gateway4 hardware, I was told, ‘make it future proof, Kevin’. I should have said, ‘no problem, right after I’ve discerned what next week’s winning lottery numbers will be; but you know how it is: you always think of a clever rejoinder when the moment to use it has passed.
Maybe it’s just as well, though; because nobody likes a smart Alec, – least of all his boss.
To try to deliver on my future proof mission impossible, I used a modem from a company called Telit (you may have heard the name recently regarding our new SIMs, as they supply them too). This particular piece of kit came with a roadmap for supporting mobile network technologies now and ‘well into the future’.
So, this month we got our first 6 prototypes using a new modem, the ‘Telit ME910’, which supports good old 2G “GPRS” along with supa-dupa, up-to-date 4G “LTE-M” mobile network technology – which wasn’t even available when we started designing the hardware.
The prototypes have been running in the UK for a week or so now on the poor old 2G “GPRS” mobile network. We posted one out this week, to JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) in The Netherlands (KPN-NL have a live 4G “LTE-M” network in The Netherlands) and it got turned on today …
So, like Monty Python’s parrot, poor old 2G “GPRS” is no more. If it wasn’t nailed to its perch, it’d be pushing up the digital daisies. From here on in to the Next Big Thing, it’s 4G “LTE-M” all the way. The guys at JDE have done some testing and I’m delighted to report ‘so far, so good’.
The upshot of all this future proof techerie? Now, we’re ready for the next generation of M2M (Machine to Machine) mobile networks. 4G “LTE-M” is the 2G “GPRS” replacement, but with faster data rates and roughly the same geographical coverage as current 2G. Your everyday 4G or 3G handsets have reduced geographical coverage to support the high data rates you need for streaming YouTube or Netflix or whatever; but remember: this is bread-and-butter M2M.One other thought before I get back to my drawing board. The same modem can be used in any country that rolls out 4G “LTE-M”, so – at long last – there’s the promise of a single product for UK, EU, USA, AUS, etc, etc, etc.
But, future proof? Finger’s crossed!
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