When looking for a machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular communications service provider, instead of being fixated solely on the price per megabyte (MB), monthly access fees or SIMs, its better to consider the important elements that make up the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Here are six factors to evaluate when looking at M2M service providers.
1) Data usage: Gauge the number of devices to be used, along with a baseline of data per device per month. Be sure to look at variances in use. For example, how many of the devices only require 10 MB of data per month? How many may need firmware upgrades, which could consume up to 100 MB of data each?
2) Ability to suspend: In some industries, devices are not used year round. For example, devices used in agricultural applications are frequently not needed in the winter months, and healthcare devices are often needed only sporadically.
Instead of paying for devices that are, at least temporarily, out of service, look for a provider that offers a suspend service capability. Keep in mind, however, that if the device will only be out of service for one month it may be just as cost-effective to keep it activated. But if a device will not be used for two or more months, do the math to determine whether suspending it makes financial sense. Also be sure to question whether deactivation or reactivation fees apply these could eliminate any savings from suspending service.
3) Troubleshooting capabilities: Providers with remote, real-time troubleshooting capabilities often save you significant costs on truck roll, or the need to call a service tech when a device needs diagnosis or repair. Providers should also have a feature that allows data to be stored in a cloud environment should devices experience downtime. And crowdsourcing technology is a troubleshooting feature thats able to gauge whether a specific device is the only one affected or whether the problem is a network issue.
4) Deployment/supply chain savings: Some providers begin billing as soon as a device passes testing. The device is placed in active status even during shipping and when it sits on a shelf without being used. A better choice is to go with a provider that places devices in active, not billable status following testing and until the device is activated.
5) Billing transparency/ease of use: Hidden charges are a common issue with M2M. For example, carriers regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are required to add surcharges and taxes. And M2M providers that offer services through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) are actually renting space from another carrier, which means processing of billing often is delayed and error-prone. M2M providers with their own networks are able to provide real-time visibility into costs through a portal, which helps to eliminate overages and unknown charges.
6) Coverage: Another feature to consider when looking at providers is coverage. When examining this feature, look at a providers network for the best coverage options overall domestically and globally. While Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology is used primarily in North America, Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) is the technology used in other parts of the world. CDMA is the technology used by Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular, and GSM is used by AT&T and T-Mobile. If your provider uses both CDMA and GSM technologies, youll experience seamless coverage worldwide.
The key is to find a carrier-agnostic service provider, one that looks out for your organizations needs and finds the best solution for all of your devices. During the evaluation of your needs, the provider should determine whether your devices are fixed or mobile, and where they will be used. A carrier agnostic-service provider helps you to overcome the hurdles of deploying a global M2M solution by working through the planning details and by providing a seamless solution for maintaining devices around the globe.
Aeris Communications provides benefits across all these factors. To find out some of the benefits of Aeris, click here.
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