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IoT Connectivity Options in 2021

A Breakdown Of This Year's Trendy Connectivity Options

It’s 2021 and we’re still trying to get to grips with the best connectivity options for IoT. I guess there is no one ‘perfect’ connectivity type because every use case has its own needs and specific requirements. There are a lot of options to choose from, and it can be overwhelming reading through all of them as the list is endless. 

5G and cellular, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, Bluetooth, RFID, of course, WiFi, LPWAN (low power wide area network) and Ethernet are the most discussed connectivity options for your sensors and devices. On top of this is the abundance of architectures and standards, which are developed to help companies choose the best IoT platform depending on your use case. 

Tech Trends

Deloitte just released their Tech Trends 2021 report which highlights the importance of new technologies, techniques and modernisation in driving strategies. They say “In the current economic climate, it’s more strategically important than ever to help your legacy core systems support the agility, innovation, and new modes of working that fuel that digital potential.” 

With that, what are the connectivity options for your IoT platform that will drive success and innovation in 2021 and enable your organisation to make faster decisions?

What Will Be Popular in 2021? 

When deciding on what connectivity options to go for, the most important factors you should be assessing are the range, bandwidth and power consumption. It takes a lot of power to send reams of data over long distances, whereas it takes little power to send data at intermittent times (low bandwidth). 


5G is all the hype at the moment, but it’s not the be-all and end-all! 5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience across the board.

While all of these terms sound wonderful, it isn’t absolutely necessary for every IoT application. 5G deployments may be crucial in providing the high-bandwidth, low-latency communication to support data-intensive applications such as autonomous vehicle operations, video surveillance and optimizing smart city traffic flows, as well as enhanced mobile broadband. But if your business doesn’t need low-latency, high-bandwidth connectivity, then it might be best to wait a while before you begin to roll out 5G technologies. The infrastructure required to build out a 5G-capable network involves a large amount of investment to deliver the benefits. So you may be just as well to wait a while as it becomes more widely adopted. 

Wi-Fi 6 

The next generation of Wi-Fi is here now and spearheading any previous IoT latency issues. It is indeed a premium IoT connectivity technology. WiFi  6 features data rates up to 10 Gbps with eight antennas, 160-MHz bandwidth, and 1024 QAM. 

This ensures that the WiFi technology can serve battery-sucking devices with large batteries and more power, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. It’s fast and reliable without draining them. But it can also serve reduced spec devices, such as those reaching 230 Mbps with only one antenna, 40 MHz, and 256 QAM. This allows for smaller, lower-powered devices to also enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi 6.

The new WiFi standard also enables a multitude of more IoT devices to operate unimpeded on the network. It enables more audio, video and other real-time data, making the network available for myriad new real-time applications.

Low-Power WAN (LPWAN)

LPWANs support devices that create low data traffic, as well as having limited battery power. This technology is available as both a license of cellular-service mobile network operators or MNOs or as an unlicensed technology that organisations can monitor and control themselves or with integrators. 

A type of licensed cellular LPWAN technology is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), which doesn’t need a lot of data aggregation gateways, but caters to devices like sensors that still need to communicate directly to the central server. NB-IoT has the capabilities to support a large amount of low-throughput devices that can penetrate below ground, as well as cater to indoor coverage, in comparison to 5G New Radio (NR). 

Another licensed option is LTE-M, which supports higher-bandwidth and mobile devices with lower latency than NB-IoT. This was also built to fit with 5G’s broader specs, as it was intended that it enables companies to exploit lower-cost data rates. 

If you’d rather not rely on licensed connectivity options, and would instead prefer to have more control over your wireless IoT infrastructure this year, then an alternative is Sigfox. This company focus on low-cost, low-power connectivity over a dedicated global network. 

Whatever connectivity route you decide to take, it’s always important that it works with your business goals and use-case. If you would like to discuss these options and others with our team of experts, please contact us today


Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO

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