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Cellular communications for remote cabins.

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  • Cellular communications for remote cabins.

    After 12 years of running a remote weather station, occasional webcam and solar power monitor using "mass-market" cellular connection, I am modifying system to use the very low cost IoT (Internet of Things) cell connections or Iridium SBD satellite connections. Cost of these very low speed / low bandwidth connections are a fraction of the cellular data plans. Currently, these systems are available using AT&T and possibly some GCI locations (testing required). Current system uses about 1/2 amp at 12 volts. Could be reduced substantially with development.

    I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has already implemented this type of connection or is interested in helping field test a system.

    Terry LaGrone
    Last edited by tlagrone; 05-31-2021, 07:31. Reason: Delete web site link

  • #2

    I'm late to the game but am also looking at establishing remote cabin communications and monitoring. I don't have anything to add yet but am curious how the IoT changeover has progressed. Would appreciate your insight as to how limiting the low bandwidth option actually is.


    • #3
      A long winter and a slow reply. After many different tests, I have found a very low cost solution using "Device Initiated" connection and the low speed connection. The speeds are adjustable up to 128 kbps [ now 1 mbps ] which could possible support low quality voice. The low bandwidth is not limiting for still photos, monitoring data or even doing software upgrades. Real time video is possible at standard definition (SD).

      Real time video theoretically possible at the high speed. Actual field tests show much lower speeds — AT&T unlimited delivers 64 kbps reliably. A low res 30 second video of 1 MB would take 2 1/2 minutes to load. Tested and verified. My adjustable rate plan was at same speed. This service would be painful for web browsing - the lowest cost plans specifically prohibit web browsing, email access, voice or personal SMS. For data transmission, it is excellent — over 20 MB per hour available.

      I set up a web site to describe my progress:

      Talking with GCI, they said that they will not have the low-speed option until 5G rollout is nearly complete including bush. They want to wait until the investment will have a payback.

      Some communications connectivity price points:

      500 MB low speed data stretched over a 10 year period would allow a 2k data transmission hourly plus an allowance for 250 MB of special access over the 10 year period. AT&T only in Alaska at under $20.00. (Available world wide on other carriers)

      Unlimited low-speed data from AT&T for under $50 per year.

      500 MB / month (LTE high speed) available at prices less than $10 per month. Suitable for VPN connections. I am able to run my cellular PTZ camera with this plan.
      (T-Mobile has this plan available in 49 states - not in Alaska; I have a special contract using AT&T at same price)

      Current consumer rates for regular LTE (high speed): AT&T $35 per month for 15 GB (Good for high resolution cameras); GCI $20 per month for 1 GB (Suitable for limited use high resolution cameras)

      Foreign technology — most components and some software manufactured in China and might be subject to US Government restrictions in future. Currently the lowest cost components cannot be purchased by regulated carriers or military.

      Pricing note: Prices are a moving target. For example, for a remote camera, price directly from AT&T has gone from $10 to $25 and recently $35 per month although the price per megabyte has gone down.. — AT&T has gotten out of direct sales of low cost plans to consumers. Reseller plans are the way to go for low usage applications.
      Last edited by tlagrone; 06-22-2021, 11:13. Reason: Real life expectations and update on AT&T service.


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