Introduction and background

According to the Persistence Market Research, Global 4G (LTE) Devices Market Value is expected to increase from $344.8 billion in 2016 to $926.1 billion by 2024. Useful daily features like low network latency rate, better battery backup, and screen resolution are motivating consumers to switch to 4G devices, driving further worldwide demand for 4G.

Both international and domestic level device manufacturers are contributing a lot to the global 4G (LTE) devices market by various innovations. A 4G-based solution could for sure make a positive difference if applied to Fleet Management, especially taking into account the continuously growing demand for connectivity on the road and the evolving Internet of Things (IoT) industry. Productive and cost-efficient fleets nowadays largely depend on a reliable connection to their enterprise network.

Various “G’s” – what’s the difference?

All of those 2-3-4-5G’s are actually standing for various generations of the telecom technology. For sure, they have different capabilities, speed, bandwidth, and rooted on different technologies. Generally, the higher the number, the more modern the generation is and the wider the area where it could be applied. Strictly speaking, what we missed here is 1G – back to the 1980’s, with a peak speed of about 14.4 kbps it was only used for voice communication. Some parameters of the currently available “G’s” one may get from the table below. Let’s briefly go through those generations.

A 2G is a second GSM-based mobile networks generation, which capabilities achieved by multiplexing (allowing multiple users on a single channel). Alongside with the voice, 2G also allows some other data transmission, for example in the form of SMS and MMS. In addition, 2G networks are actually digital, whereas 1G used to be analog.

The 3G generation effectively combines 2G with additional new technologies, protocols and employs Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) as a core architecture. As a result, 3G has increased data transfer rate and bandwidth, compared to previous generations. 3G supports multimedia services, streaming, portability, allows to receive/send large emails and provides universal access across different devices.

The 4th generation was introduced around 2009 with an ultimate goal to provide high speed, capacity and quality to users while improving security and lowering the costs. 4G based on OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) and MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technologies. OFDM is basically a form of signal modulation that provides some significant advantages for data links. MIMO is one of the forms of smart antenna technology for wireless communications.

MIMO employs multiple antennas at both the transmitter/source and the receiver/destination. At each end of the communications circuit, antennas are combined to provide data speed optimization and errors reduction. 4G enables global and scalable mobile networks, higher speed, higher capacity, increased portability and high definition streaming.

5G is a recently introduced generation and currently undergo further development and active integration. 5G employs pretty rare radio millimeter bands in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz range. One of the most important 5G’s features is low latency. Some estimations claiming 5G latency to be 60-120 times faster than the average 4G latency. 

What 4G can offer to fleet management?

A combined 4G communication and GPS satellite navigation technology could provide fleet owners with the information and services that they were looking for. Global network providers already shutting down their 2G networks in many countries and planning to terminate the 3G network in 2020. Therefore, a 4G-ready GPS tracking devices are a hot topic. Currently, the 4G communication has become one of the main trends of telematics market.  

A 4G combined with GPS allows to collect enormous vehicle data for the purposes of remote monitoring and diagnostics. By utilizing such systems symbiotically with the modern mobile resource management platform, it is possible to monitor and control various parameters including status, location and movements of fleets, thus increasing cost efficiency and performance. 4G also provides opportunities to increase a monitoring center-to-vehicles communication performance.

In principle, the more advanced and faster wireless network, the more complex and advantageous onboard services it may potentially support. By implementing 4G based solutions, fleet owners obtaining a forward-compatibility, i.e. owners of 4G compatible devices could take advantage of forthcoming technologies without otherwise necessary re-shaping of technological infrastructure.

Real world examples

Let’s consider some GPS/4G devices for fleet management, currently available on the market.  AK11 by ATrack is a versatile and multi-functional telematics device, capable of data communication via 4G LTE network with 3G fallback in US, and 2G fallback in Euro. It is a useful device for Transportation industry and fleet applications.  It includes interfaces for OBDII, J1939, and J1708, and supports a wide range of sensors as well as output trigger capabilities.

Another example is advanced 4G trackers group by Teltonika. Teltonika FMB640 is GNSS, GSM and Bluetooth terminal for professional applications. As described in official product catalog, FMB640 is designed for complex solutions, where one device can do multiple tasks. FMB640 features like FMS CAN data (J1939), fuel CAN data (J1708), tachograph live data (K-line), remote tachograph file download, various third party RS232 or RS485 devices support and Dual-SIM will maximize your fleet efficiency. Terminal is suitable for applications like international logistics, refrigerated transport, agriculture, construction & mining, security & emergency services and even more. Device supports various sensors, like temperature/humidity sensors, hands-free, firmware and configuration update via Bluetooth.

To proceed further, there is also a TR800 – a flagship 4G LTE GPS Tracking Device by Linxio. This is fleet-management targeted device with options for hard-wired or OBD-II Installation. Its useful features include Bluetooth capabilities, 6 x inputs and 2 outputs with options for temperature sensors, driver ID and CANbus.

The examples described above are obviously not forming a complete list of the ones currently available on the market. Instead, all these examples are nicely demonstrating the growing trend of combining GPS modules capabilities with 4G advantages to provide fleet owners with more insightful data and enhanced monitoring opportunities.

 A 4G combined with GPS tracking allows to collect more insightful vehicle data, increasing remote monitoring, control and diagnostics efficiency. Utilizing such combined systems, it is possible to monitor status, location and movements of fleets, thus optimizing fleet cost efficiency and performance. 4G could help to increase a monitoring center-to-vehicles communication performance, but in practice it’s features would depend on network availability at particular area and country. The more advanced and faster wireless network is, the more complex and advantageous onboard fleet-related services it may potentially support.