Optimum Wireless Network Selection for Business Applications


QUALCOMM Wireless Business Solutions (QWBS) provides highly reliable and scalable solutions for mobile and remote business applications using a wide variety of wirelesstechnologies. These solutions become an integral part of the IT infrastructure of the businesses served; therefore, the long-term assurance of service availability is also acritical characteristic. QWBS applies a rigorous process in selecting the best wirelesstechnology and carrier for each application.


The Basics Of Network Selection:

QWBS seeks to apply the “right tool for the job.” In order to do this, a clear understanding of the “job” is needed.This means that a profile of the application must be created to specify how technology solves the problems oremote connectedness, information timeliness, and customer service, which then drives decision making regardingthe following:

• H uman and Vehicle Interfaces: A description of device constraints such as size, weight, andpower, which may preclude certain technology choices before beginning network assessment.

• L ongevity, Scalability, and Reliability: A projection of the typical expected ownership cycle for thedevices that will be applied, which dictates the required time horizon for service availability.

• Quality of Service and Timeliness of Delivery: A traffic model that describes the data communicationsrequirements as a function of  time and place. In other words, where and when does data need to betransmitted, and how much?For each application and its accompanying traffic model, QWBS selects an optimum wireless network based onthe “5 Cs”: Capacity, Coverage, Continuity, Cost, and Consistency. The network selection includes considerationof technology and available carriers. A methodical assessment of the Cagainst the requirements of anapplication will clearly yield different choices for different applications—there is no single choice that is alwaysbest. On this basis, QWBS applies a wide variety of technologies including satellite, various cellular technologies,and WiFi (IEEE 802.11).


Stepping Through The Process:

1. Network choices are first screened based on which can provide the necessary capacity for the application.The traffic model indicates how much data must be transmitted, and how the traffic is dispersed overtime and space. Networks that can provide the necessary capacity can be considered further.

2. Choices of networks and carriers are evaluated based on coverage. The traffic model includes thespatial dispersion of the application. The traffic profile can be overlaid with network coverage modelsto determine which networks can provide acceptable coverage. In mobile applications using a storeand-forward architecture, coverage shortcomings contribute to latency of information delivery.Therefore, communications urgency can be assessed as an element of coverage analysis.

3. Among networks that can provide adequate capacity and coverage, long-term network continuitymust be evaluated. Network continuity includes assessment of the availability of network service andcorresponding devices at reasonable cost levels. This requires an assessment of the technology andbusiness trends that are impacting the candidate networks over time. Eventually, networks becomeobsolete and are replaced based on economic considerations. The expected network continuity must be substantially longer than the typical device ownership cycle that isexpected and required in the target application.

4. Having screened based on capacity, coverage, and continuity, a set of candidatenetwork choices remains. Among these, an analysis of total cost of ownership (TCO)is conducted. To understand TCO as it relates to wireless communication, the analysismust consider the costs of airtime, devices, infrastructure to make use of the network,and implementation costs. When weighing costs of airtime versus devices, the volume of communications traffic (based on the profile) greatly affects the proper choice. If alow volume of communication is expected, then device cost is more important thanairtime. With higher communications volume, airtime cost becomes more importantthan device cost. An effective application profile is essential to assessing these costtrade-offs.

5. As a final important selection criterion, the consistency of network performance(i.e., reliability and availability) can often be a key determinant in a final carrierselection. In general, network consistency is more a function of carrier operationsand implementation than of technology.

However, significant differences in theconsistency of performance among carriers may drive trade-offs in cost or coverage.Layering of networks within a single product category increases system performanceconsistency by mitigating unexpected network availability issues on terrestrial carriernetworks through redundancy and diversity of network providers.Examples of Wireless Choices in PlatformsQUALCOMM has recently developed an asset management platform that is applied to trailers(T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS™ asset management solution), and a mobile computing platformthat is applied in the cab of commercial vehicles including a user interface for the driver(OmniVision™ mobile computing platform).

These platforms require very different wirelesschoices to achieve an optimum result.The T2 requires seamless coverage, high reliability, and long-term network availability. In normaluse, the quantity of data transmitted is small; short messages are sent infrequently, typicallyonly 1-2 per day. However, it is critical to be able to transmit a large amount of data occasionally,to provide over-the-air software upgrades. (Unlike many systems that claim “software upgrades”over-the-air, but only change various parameters, the T2 solution requires the ability to updatethe entire application image over-the-air.)

The antenna must be very flat and unobtrusivemechanically. The device must be extremely power efficient. There are no available satellitetechnologies that meet the requirements of size, power, and still provide adequate bandwidthto upgrade software over-the-air. In the judgment of QWBS, the satellite technologies capableof meeting most of the requirements have substantial risk to long-term infrastructure availability.With cellular technologies, analog is required to achieve near ubiquity.

However, analog isbeginning to degrade in certain areas (mostly large cities) and being replaced by digital. This defined a requirement for a multi-mode configuration. A platform using control-channel messagingcan meet coverage, cost, and longevity requirements, but again does not provide adequatebandwidth to update software over-the-air.Therefore, control channel messaging may be desirable to enhance cost and network availability, but onlywhen applied in conjunction with other cellular communication modes. In completing the cost modelingfor the platform, the weighted-average cost for communications is unfavorably impacted by analog usagefor ubiquity, but is still viable. Furthermore, the low cost of cellular hardwarefavorablyimpacts the total costof ownership. Since airtime usage is low, the favorable hardware cost is a larger percentage of the total cost ofownership than airtime.The OmniVision platform also requires seamless coverage, high reliability, long-term network availability, and over-the-air software upgrades. The quantity of data transmitted is 10x that of T2.

Also, the constraints on antenna packaging and power are far less significant, providing the possibility to apply QUALCOMM’sKu-band satellite technology. The Ku-band technology provides ubiquity, reliability, and long-term assuranceof service, but the Ku-band hardware platform is more expensive than cellular devices. However, the communications cost is far more important in the cab-based application because 10x more airtime is consumed thanin the T2 application. Communications cost over the Ku-band platform is actually lower than the weightedaverage cost of cellular because of the unfavorable impact of analog usage when near-ubiquity is a requirement.It should be noted that if ubiquitous coverage were not a requirement, the total cost of ownership would favor cellular by using a digital-only configuration.

Given the requirement for ubiquity, which is driven by the competitive need for near real-time information, selection of the Ku-band technology yields lower total cost of ownership due to lower average communications cost. QUALCOMM also achieves higher reliability than cellular networks with its satellite network because it is designed and operated specifically for mission-critical business applications.Therefore, if the total cost of ownership is comparable between QUALCOMM’s satellite network and cellular, the satellite network provides higher value through consistent reliability.



QWBS applies a business philosophy of choosing the “right tool for the job” in technology selection. Optimumwireless network choices (technologies and carriers) are made by first profiling the application, then assessingnetwork choices using the 5 Cs. Optimization of Capacity, Coverage, Continuity, Cost, and Consistency yieldsthe best possible performance and total cost of ownership for each wireless business solution. QUALCOMMmakes these choices in favor of our customers to ensure the highest quality, reliability and service in the industry.

About Qualcomm:

Since 1988, QUALCOMM Wireless Business Solutions (QWBS) has provided integrated wireless systemsand services to businesses around the world. QWBS delivers the actionable information businesses seekin order to operate at peak performance and improve the quality of life for its customers, their employeesand the entire value chain. QUALCOMM’s world-class technology infrastructure, customer care and professional services enable QWBS to meet the increasingly complex needs of many industries, such as mobile enterprise, transportation and logistics, construction equipment and healthcare. QWBS’ customer focus is based on the knowledge that leveraging technology is critical to creating business insight that helps clients achieve their vision.