When building an in-vehicle networking solution, fleet managers must consider reliability, manageability, security, and more
As wireless broadband technology continues to advance, so does the reliance on that technology for connected vehicles. Fleets of public buses, first responder vehicles, utility and delivery vans, and even food trucks rely on LTE and 5G for constant connectivity to surveillance, signage, Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, GPS data, automatic vehicle location (AVL), telematics, and much more.
With such a diverse set of needs to accommodate, selecting the right rugged 5G or LTE router for your fleet can seem daunting. Thankfully, most of today’s mobile broadband routers for vehicles are flexible enough to support these various needs, leaving only a handful of major considerations for buyers to take into account.
For additional connected vehicle and public transit purchasing considerations, review our fleet buyers’ guide.
Before selecting a wireless vehicle router for your fleet, it’s important to understand what problems can be solved through the activation of a 5G or 4G vehicle router. For example, when considering 5G for public transit, a company may have the desire to improve rider experience by integrating on-board payment processing and smart city applications. By placing ruggedized routers throughout a fleet of city buses, those vehicles are now able to provide contactless payment solutions, digital signage, real-time arrival information, guest Wi-Fi, and traffic signal priority communication.
Connected technologies have become vital to public safety agencies, too. Installing a wireless vehicle router in a police cruiser enables tools such as automatic license plate readers, body and dash cameras, MDTs, and on-board IoT sensors. Moreover, with the added support of Wi-Fi as a wide-area network (WAN) option, large files such as video footage can automatically be offloaded at headquarters without the use of cellular data.
Cellular-connected vehicles also provide the means for students to access Wi-Fi on school buses and delivery fleets to securely manage inventory on the go.
Considerations for selecting an in-vehicle networking solution
Once you’ve determined if a fleet of connected vehicles is the right solution for your enterprise business, there are a handful of considerations to keep in mind.
Constant, reliable connectivity is essential for the digital technologies on which fleets now depend. While a single-modem mobile router is an excellent solution, a dual-modem router is the best way to ensure always-on connectivity through instant failover between multiple carriers. This feature is particularly important for fleets traveling in and out of good signal areas, such as delivery vehicles or patrol cars that frequent rural neighborhoods. As an added benefit, Cradlepoint’s dual-modem routers use intelligent path selection to ensure the most important network traffic (i.e., POS, GPS, and AVL) is assigned to the strongest signal.
Regardless of whether your organization has 1,000 fire support vehicles, 100 rural school buses or a handful of bookmobiles, around-the-clock support and cloud-based network management are mission critical. A proper management platform should be scalable, with the ability to monitor and manage all of your routers — including those in vehicles, locations, and for IoT— from anywhere.
The transmission of sensitive customer and payment information or public safety data to and from vehicles requires an enterprise-grade wireless edge solution. The best rugged routers include built-in application-aware and zone-based firewalls, VPN options, and threat management and web filtering features. The best cloud-based network management platforms also include security dashboards that provide actionable insights about a variety of security-related analytics.
To help extend equipment longevity and protect the transmission of data, ruggedized routers can be certified to withstand vibration, shock, dust, splash, humidity, and temperature extremes ranging from -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius) to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). Additionally, ignition sensing routers provide another layer of safety by allowing the user to automatically power the equipment on or off as the vehicle starts or is shut off. Each of these protective measures ensures connections and communications over the cellular network remain secure and uninterrupted, regardless of weather or road conditions.
Backed by nationwide cellular networks, rugged 5G and LTE routers with enterprise-grade capabilities provide secure, reliable connectivity for fleets across all industries. Researching such solutions before making a purchase or deploying a set of wireless routers is an essential step to future-proofing your business.