A Different Type of Network: The Benefits of Cellular Coverage in IoT


IoT cellular coverage refers to the availability and, ideally, the requisite reliability of cellular networks for IoT devices. Said devices typically require low-bandwidth, low power connectivity for transmitting data over cellular networks; but still, in 2023, in-building connections aren’t across-the-board guarantees.

Yet, they need to be.

Enter Stephen Kowal, CCO of Nextivity, a company captivated by assuring in-building cellular coverage, public safety, and private networking solutions (NaaS).

Today at IoT Evolution Expo 2023, held at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Kowal led a session about cellular coverage and Nextivity’s go-to-market strategy for smart cellular connectivity solutions. This session was moderated by John Corral, Partner, IMHO Consulting.

As Kowal pointed out, connectivity is not a luxury. We’re all increasingly dependent on it. (For work, for entertainment, personal safety, and so on.) Organizations globally still struggle with challenges (i.e. internal, environmental, etc.) that result in poor coverage.

Enter public cellular coverage for connectivity. Bundled with the idea of “the fourth utility,” public and private cellular coverage like Nextivity’s CEL-FI QUATRA allow for more coverage, rather than capacity.

“With exceptions of stadiums, airports, traffic jams and other mass communication events,” Kowal said, “there’s typically plenty of capacity for data transmission on public cellular networks. In truth, about 80% of the time, the real issue is coverage. Available signals may not reach those who need it, when and where they need it. Cell tower proximities and exterior obstructions are sometimes culprits. So, let’s take more service to the people.”

Kowal explained that the industry needs the power of macro-networks that deliver high-quality cellular service, so people can expect the same coverage wherever they go.

The presentation continued with Kowal comprehensively tackling Wi-Fi vs. CEL-FI, as well as key industries for coverage (e.g. healthcare, datacenters, manufacturing, and warehousing).

“We need the power of the network inside those buildings. Simple as that.”

Kowal also stated that millions, if not billions, of dollars are being spent the wrong way, in terms of networks and IoT; specifically related to the number of connected devices versus the number of non-connected ones. And, as more concerns crop up around security, cost, and complexity-to-manage factors, cellular can recover trust in connectivity. (Whereas, per Kowal, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, BLE, Zigbee, Z-Wave, RFID and others may not be able to.)

“So, why standardize on cellular?” Kowal asked the audience. “Well, using cellular for private networking and IoT apps has clear advantages like seamless, reliable coverage throughout buildings, parking areas, loading docks and adjacent structures, and the cost of cellular modems drives decreases in TCO.”

Kowal clarified that, while every building should have Wi-Fi, critical communications should be run on cellular in the future.

“Fewer signal interruptions, less interference and network traffic issues, no issues with handovers, no extreme transmission delays, and fewer pressures on internal IT resources. That’s what prioritizing cellular can offer.”

Overall, becoming more independent via robust cellular networking, according to Kowal, is well worth the time and investment in the long haul.

More info about Nextivity can be found here.

Edited by Alex Passett
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