The Internet of Things is now realizing its potential with massive IoT deployments involving billions of devices being utilized across the globe. IoT was never supposed to be a low-volume activity, but it has taken almost two decades for the technology to emerge into the mainstream as the technologies, systems, processes and policies for operating and managing this new industry have matured.
The early iterations of IoT could be micro-managed, but mass-scale means this is impractical. Therefore, the IoT industry has had to devote time, effort and resources to ensure it is ready for the mass market, writes Norbert Muhrer, President and CSO, Quectel Wireless Solutions.
Modern IoT deployments rely on deploying connected devices to global markets securely at a mass scale. IoT business cases depend on uninterrupted access to critical device components and the ability to produce devices that offer a balanced blend of performance, cost and lifespan.
The complexity of achieving optimized IoT service launches means that, for many, designing devices, selecting components, choosing connectivity technologies and carriers and gaining certifications would be too slow, costly and inefficient to achieve in-house. Global markets face constrained access to people with relevant IoT skills and experience.
Few companies can justify maintaining an IoT team after products have been created and services have been launched. Devoting resources to continually reinventing the wheel is counter-productive and delays time-to-market. Companies entering IoT, therefore, are increasingly turning to trusted partners and suppliers to streamline IoT service introduction. They can respond to competitive pressures more rapidly, accelerate time to market and simplify device development while addressing the complexities of global deployments. Accessing experienced partners that have the flexibility to enable deployments to scale up as required is fundamental to the success of IoT initiatives and helps companies mitigate the risks of large-scale deployments.
Quectel is a pioneer in IoT and wireless communications, driving innovation for a smarter world. The company has focused on advancing the IoT industry and the company has a unique and extensive track record of successfully helping partners and customers make their IoT dreams reality. The company enables innovative solutions in a wide range of industry sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, automotive, waste management, energy, payment and asset tracking.
This experience positions Quectel well when assessing the significant issues that affect IoT such as massive scale, the expanded threat surface and compliance with global certifications. Much of the heavy lifting to address these issues has been done in the last decade but there are implications for deployments of tens of millions – or even hundreds of millions of devices such as with smart meter deployments in India – being rolled out. Security is an obvious and ongoing concern with failures and threats magnified as the scale of IoT projects has grown. This puts enormous pressure on IoT service providers and organizations to address security by design at the very start of an IoT project and then to ensure appropriate security policies and upgrades are put in place throughout the life of the deployment.
It has therefore become essential for organizations to thoroughly and rigorously assess the capabilities of their suppliers and then go further to ensure component supply will not be interrupted and that suppliers adopt the same stringent approaches to security and certification as they do themselves. In this respect the delays to massive IoT becoming reality have been helpful because the intervening years have allowed vendors to mature and develop strong security practices and technologies and to innovate to ensure IoT devices can be trusted. This has become a fundamental enabler of mission critical, mass-scale IoT.
Quectel was early to recognize the importance of module security for its comprehensive range of cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite and GNSS modules. The company adheres to stringent industry standards to ensure the quality and reliability of its products, especially for mission critical IoT. Quectel ensures that security is an integral aspect of every step of a product’s lifecycle by making sure secure connectivity is enabled by every Quectel module.
Safeguarding data privacy is at the heart of successful IoT and Quectel does not have any access to data transmitted through its modules. All data collected is exclusively managed and stored by Quectel’s customers, primarily the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or device manufacturers. However, security is not an afterthought for Quectel; it is woven into the fabric of the company’s design and development processes, rigorously assessed and validated by third-party cybersecurity testing organizations.
In pursuit of further enhancing module security, Quectel has forged a strategic partnership with Finite State, a US-based specialist focused on enabling product security teams to protect devices through software threat, vulnerability and risk management activities. By analyzing every piece of information in the device firmware, Finite State ensures that secure device manufacturing can be achieved at scale, integrating seamlessly into SecOps processes. Through this extensive testing, Quectel has been able to confirm that its products exceed industry standards and best practices across various security measures.
By collaborating with First State, Quectel also enhances transparency and visibility throughout the software supply chain and is able to implement comprehensive software risk management strategies. This commitment extends to compliance and security across its product suite and the company prioritizes transparency, adherence to regulatory requirements, and the attainment of industry-leading security benchmarks.
Scale up to meet demand
Security is now, correctly, a showstopper for IoT projects but IoT’s growth means approaches to support must also change. A five-country deployment of a million devices has very different criteria to a single country use case involving a few thousand products. Therefore, module suppliers must ensure they have the scale to handle not only customers’ volume demands for specific components but also their support requirements.
The sheer scale of IoT can be bewildering and businesses are often faced with suppliers that are not able to provide sector-specific support and don’t have the capability to advise and help customers during their deployments. Quectel ensures customer satisfaction and the flawless execution of project implementations with its strategically positioned regional FAE (Field Application Engineering) teams, dedicated to providing personalized support and technical expertise.
Quectel FAE teams work in close partnership with customers, collaborating from project initiation to completion. Their mission is to thoroughly comprehend unique project requirements, offer tailored solutions and address any challenges that may arise during the project’s lifecycle.
Trust in the IoT ecosystem
Collaborations such as Quectel’s with Finite State are essential because nothing in IoT happens without interactions between multiple organizations. It is therefore essential that trust is developed and maintained among partners, customers, suppliers and industry organizations. Quectel maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of partners and industry organizations spanning the entire ecosystem. The chipsets used in the company’s modules originate from several providers, including Qualcomm, and the company collaborates with Amazon, Nvidia and many other innovators across the IoT landscape.
These dynamic alliances empower the company to deliver state-of-the-art wireless communication solutions, driving transformative change across an array of industries. In addition, as an engaged participant in numerous industry organizations, Quectel actively contributes to developments within the sector. Membership of organizations such as GSMA, GSA, CTA, 450 MHz Alliance and the 5G Alliance underscore the company’s commitment to shaping the future of the industry through collaborative efforts.
Quectel played a key role in the early adoption of 5G, LPWA and C-V2X technologies, often being the first to commercially introduce modules in these sectors. The launch of RedCap and satellite communications modules in 2023 is the latest example of Quectel’s development helping to lead IoT into a new era. To stay ahead, the company continues to invest heavily in research and development, driving the creation of pioneering solutions that address emerging market needs. Investment in research and development remains at the heart of Quectel’s ethos. The company’s commitment to innovation is exemplified by the establishment of R&D facilities in Belgrade, Serbia, Penang, Malaysia, andVancouver, Canada, which provide invaluable support to customers worldwide. In addition, Quectel prioritizes adaptability and scalability in its solutions, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of applications and industries.
This approach empowers businesses to seamlessly integrate Quectel’s offerings into their projects, unlocking new avenues for growth and innovation. IoT never stands still and Quectel is always exploring new technologies and assessing the maturity of innovations in readiness for real world deployments. Quectel embraces emerging technologies that are poised to make a substantial impact on the IoT and wireless communication industries in the near future. Obvious connectivity technologies include 5G and 6G plus the latest innovations in satellite and nonterrestrial networks (NTNs).
For 5G and beyond, the rollout of 5G networks promises increased bandwidth, lower latency and enhanced connectivity, revolutionizing IoT applications. Quectel has a wide range of 5G-compatible modules to capitalize on the potential of this technology, enabling faster and more reliable data transmission for IoT devices and continues to work on developing ever better solutions. By integrating advanced satellite communication capabilities into its portfolio, Quectel empowers industries and enterprises with reliable, global connectivity, regardless of geographical constraints. This expansion into satellite technology reaffirms Quectel’s commitment to pioneering connectivity solutions across diverse landscapes and cementing its position as a trailblazer in the field.
Quectel has emerged as a prominent IoT solutions provider, offering an extensive array of services that go beyond its module and antennas portfolios. The experience gained so far feeds into Quectel’s innovations for the future and in building capabilities further. Quectel’s goal is to provide excellent support for their customers while providing highly secure products that safeguard customers and protect their data.
As a global IoT solutions provider, Quectel occupies a position of trust as the enabler of millions of connected devices. Quectel’s priority is to ensure that trust is always maintained as they develop ever more secure, reliable solutions in their quest to build a smarter world.