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By Rich Handley

Electric Imp Intros Cellular IoT Service

Electric Imp, a provider of secure edge-to-enterprise cloud Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, has announced its impCellular system, which provides cellular communication to its IoT platform. impCellular leverages Electric Imp's platform architecture to simplify the process of developing, shipping and maintaining cellular-connected devices. With impCellular, the company reports, customers are never exposed to SIMs, activation, complex price plans or burdensome carrier requirements.

"We developed impCellular specifically to solve the complex, time-consuming and costly development process involved in most cellular IoT projects," said Hugo Fiennes, Electric Imp's CEO and co-founder, in a prepared statement. "With the addition of cellular connectivity, our customers have another compelling option to easily, rapidly and cost-effectively achieve zero-install secure connectivity for their IoT applications. The complete connectivity package is combined with our standard edge-to-cloud security and lifecycle management services to help customers maximize the potential of real-time connectivity without the traditional complexities of deploying connected devices at scale."

Hybrid operation modes are supported, allowing devices to securely use lower-cost networks when available. For example, telematics applications can send high volumes of buffered sensor data via Wi-Fi when a truck is at a loading bay, but only transmit location data and alerts via a cellular connection when the vehicle is moving. Cellular backup can be used to improve the reliability of stationary applications, such as smart vending machines.

One early customer of impCellular is Operant Solar, which developed a mesh-networked monitoring system for solar panel installations that initially used imp005-powered Wi-Fi backhaul. "The changes required to move our product to cellular literally took us one afternoon," said Rod Sugiyama, Operant Solar's COO, in the prepared statement. "The Electric Imp Platform allows us to provide resilient, trouble-free internet connectivity for photovoltaic inverters at a very attractive cost point."

The initial impCellular product is the impC001, which offers LTE cat 1 and 3G operation combined with local processing and a range of I/O applications. Models of the impC001 are available for the United States, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. Expected during the fourth quarter of 2018 is the impC002, which will contain a global Cat-M / NB-IoT radio. Pricing for Electric Imp's cellular connectivity is based on the number of devices connected each month, with cellular data allowances automatically pooled across a customer's account and with no charges for devices that do not connect.

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