When the first IoT devices were deployed, enabling machines to transmit small parcels of data over cellular networks, a 2G network connection was the only choice. As cellular technology continues to advance, allowing faster speeds and higher bandwidths, cellular carriers have already, and will continue to shutdown legacy-technology networks--severely impacting IoT providers, enablers, and users. While the impact is more significant in some verticals than others, organizations using IoT Healthcare solutions – especially those with dispersed end user groups – face enormous challenges migrating their devices to the latest cellular connectivity technology. While maintaining the continuity of cellular connectivity is important for all IoT applications; ensuring continuous coverage of IoT healthcare devices, in particular, can be literally, a matter of life or death.
Specific Challenges for IoT Healthcare Solutions
The sensitive nature of the data that that healthcare-related IoT devices are monitoring, and the fact that people rely on continuous coverage, means that any amount of device or network downtime is unacceptable. Rob Flippo, CEO at mPERS innovator MobileHelp, estimates that one hour of device or network downtime can result in as many as 34 missed emergency calls. The impact of a potential network shutdown for MobileHelp is even more significant for three key reasons – the number of devices in use, the wide geographic spread of their devices’ locations, and the age and level of technology expertise of their primary end-users.
It is possible to face a network-technology shutdown successfully; and MobileHelp is an example of a company that did exactly that. At the time of AT&T’s initial 2G sunset announcement, just five years after MobileHelp had launched their solution, MobileHelp had over 40,000 active AT&T 2G devices in the field. The device volume alone required extensive strategic planning to ensure a successful migration. Their challenges multiplied because their primary users consisted of elderly adults who, for the most part, lacked technical skills. In addition, these devices were located in a wide-spread geographic area, making on-site support impossible. As a result, MobileHelp was faced with a monumentally sized challenge.
Solving Challenges with the Help of a Trusted Advisor
Because of the complexities associated with a network migration of this nature and size, MobileHelp knew they needed to rely on the expertise of a knowledgable advisor and partner. In their case, this choice was obvious. They had already worked closely with KORE from the time they started building their IoT-enabled mPERS solutions. Because KORE had successfully helped MobileHelp identify the resources and connectivity services they needed to make their company successful in the first place, they knew KORE would be able to help them lay a smooth foundation for their impending network migration.
The relationship KORE continues to have with major network carriers allowed KORE to give MobileHelp plenty of advanced notice for the AT&T 2G network shutdown. This extra time meant MobileHelp could take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to fully develop their migration strategy. KORE also helped the MobileHelp team identify which radio modules, compatible with new network technology, that they should choose, and how to get MobileHelp’s upgraded devices certified and operational as quickly as possible.
Looking to the Future of IoT Healthcare Connectivity
Cellular technology will never stop evolving. Full-scale 2G and now 3G sunsets are scheduled—some as early as 2019. Despite that, the team at MobileHelp isn’t concerned. The success that KORE and MobileHelp shared in migrating their devices from 2G to 3G has set the stage for another seamless transition to LTE.
Flippo shared, “Even though the stakes are much higher because our company has grown and we have so many more 3G devices today than we did when we faced the 2G shutdown, MobileHelp is absolutely comfortable and confident in KORE’s abilities as our partner during the upcoming transition from 3G to LTE.”