Cellular Connectivity vs Wi-Fi

Often times customers want to know why we offer cellular connectivity instead of Wi-Fi enabled devices. Because of OptConnect’s start in the ATM space and with unattended equipment that was processing credit card transactions that required enhanced security and the need for placement flexibility in 3rd party locations, the benefits of cellular connectivity far outweighed Wi-Fi.

Though they both offer a connectivity solution, they are different in many ways. Here are some of the reasons why cellular connectivity is a great solution for our customers.

Security and Coverage

When dealing with placing internet-enabled equipment and devices in 3rd party locations, it can present challenges from a connectivity standpoint. With cellular connectivity, you typically get a more secure connection that is encrypted and maintained by the major carriers who are constantly working to keep it as safe and reliable as possible.

Their success as a provider is directly tied to how well they accomplish that. With the enhancements in cellular networks and the expansion of connected IoT devices, the cellular network range and coverage is also constantly improving.

When moving a device from one location to another, there is also no coordination needed with the on-premise IT department as the connectivity is not reliant upon their in-house network which provides greater flexibility in placement and changes over time.

Uptime & Reliability

Another benefit of cellular connectivity is that OptConnect works with all the major carriers so even if one particular carrier has a weak signal in one location, we can usually find a carrier solution that will work better than the rest to ensure uptime and reliability.

With Wi-Fi networks, they may provide what appears to be a cheaper connectivity solution since they can often be accessed for free, but they often lack the security and reliability that most customers demand when up-time is crucial for their operating success and when sensitive customer data is being processed.

In 3rd party locations, the Wi-Fi could be on a public network, it could lack security updates and protocols, or it requires coordination and maintenance from an IT department whose main priority is not making sure your equipment stays connected.

When your equipment loses connectivity, it falls squarely on your shoulders to troubleshoot the issue and try to get someone else’s help on the network side which can be a time consuming and frustrating process. It could be as simple as someone updating a Wi-Fi password or changing one setting and your equipment loses connectivity.

Additionally, with the recent hacks and cyber-attacks of sensitive customer data, many companies are eliminating all 3rdparty access to their private network, including Wi-Fi, to reduce their risks, vulnerabilities, and potential liabilities.

More Benefits of Cellular

Another drawback of Wi-Fi is that it is location-based so it usually only covers small areas effectively and depending upon where you place your device it may not be able to get a strong enough signal to maintain reliable connectivity.

When a company is looking to deploy a machine or device that needs connectivity in their own store, office, or building then Wi-Fi is often their first choice. This is because they already pay for the internet connectivity so there are no additional charges they have to factor in and they are already managing the security of that network themselves.

If the reliability of their internet is strong enough to operate their other business operations than it can usually handle adding another device without complications. They can also use large amounts of data without worrying about additional costs since the connectivity is not based on usage, but rather speed.

With cellular connectivity, data plans are purchased based on the application that is priced well for lower data consumption needs (typically 5GB or less) but can become costly with higher data consumption.

Choosing OptConnect

Both cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi have their strengths and weaknesses depending upon the application and location of a device. When uptime, security, placement flexibility and speed to market are your highest priority, OptConnect’s fully managed solution is a great option.

To speak to one of our connectivity experts give us a call at 1.877.678.3343.

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