Network coverage for IVMS and asset tracking – how do they differ?


As a supplier of IVMS we are often facing the difficult situation of having to recommend and select the correct product to match the available network coverage. Outside the capital cities of Australia 3G/4G can sometimes be unreliable and in more isolated parts of the country outright unavailable, yet it is by far the cheapest form of communication available.

A SIM cards costs around $1.50/ month per MB, whereas satellite communication costs are measured in Kb so will always cost much more, and in some cases literally incur a cost per message. We are as such faced with a choice of cheaper and more abundant communications solution, versus a more expensive, more restricted form of communication that are not reliant on a 3G/4G signal and therefore more reliable in regional areas.

There are also other factors that need to be considered when deciding the best form of communication. IVMS communication requirements are very different from asset tracking requirements for example. How does this work?

IVMS’s principal function is as a fleet management tool and driver behaviour monitor. Rarely do our IVMS customers monitor any vehicle movement live. What they require is summarised information that allows them to get an overview of their fleet’s behaviour and monitor for exceptions. So, if there is a temporary network dropout with IVMS due to patchy coverage, it won’t affect the overall useability of the data. As long as the data comes in at some stage later that day our overnight IVMS reporting system will still have the data it needs to provide reports.

Asset management is slightly different as users need to know where the assets are at any moment. The asset could however be placed in a low to no coverage area for several weeks from where, due to the lack of coverage, the unit would be unable to broadcast its position. Therefore the immediacy of the data and its function would be lost.

As a general rule we would recommend:

IVMS: go with a 3G/4G Cat M1 NB-IoT product, unless there is patchy to zero coverage, in which case we recommend an Iridium failover add-on. When data is transmitted over iridium we wind back the reporting rate and only transmit what is important, whilst still giving a decent picture of what is happening with the vehicle. This means that we will get a position every 15 minutes, seatbelts will be monitored, a harsh event can still be sent through immediately, as well as top speed violations, panic button and impact/rollover alerts. The rest of the trip data will be stored and sent through once the vehicle comes back into coverage.

Asset management: here we tend to favour a satellite product unless we can be assured of strong, universal 3G/4G Cat M1 NB-IoT coverage on site. Fortunately, with the roll-out of 4G Cat M1 NB-IoT, network coverage is getting better all the time, so we have been able to recommend 4G Cat M1 NB-IoT devices in most cases over the past year or two.

Whether you are interested in IVMS, asset management or both, we are here to give you the best possible advice and to help you make the correct choice for your application. Our years of experience as IVMS and asset management specialists enable us to provide you with the right product that will ensure the best visibility for your application and location at the lowest possible cost.