Embedded PC Acts as Intelligent Router with 4 SIM Slots for Fast, Stable and Secure Bonded Cellular Internet
Things Embedded were approached by a leading manufacturer of proprietary 4G technology to help them deliver ultra-fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity onboard superyachts, cruise ships, research vessels and river cruises. Their proprietary technology was to be integrated into an embedded PC and be able to accommodate various requirements unique to superyachts when it comes to 4G. Being deployed on ships and subject to 24/7 operation we had to source an embedded computer capable of hosting multiple modems from one of our robust, industrial-grade computing solutions.
Fanless Embedded Computing with 4 Modems and 4 External SIM Card Slots
The MERA-3100 from Arestech was selected as one of the few fanless embedded PCs with 4 expansion slots on board and 4 external SIM card slots. As our customer was finding out during research for a solution, most industrial PCs in the market support one or two modems with SIM slots being the limiting factor. Arestech are one of our trusted industry partners and their commitment to maintaining an ample stock holding proved critical in supporting the project from the offset.
Given the nature of install, removing all points of failure in challenging maritime environments was paramount. Relying on passive cooling via the systems heat sink technology, the MERA-3100 was capable of withstanding the higher ambient temperatures it was going to be subject to with being installed inside a cabinet and having minimal air exchange. Hosting a 35W 9th Generation Intel Core i3 CPU the PC is capable of withstanding temperatures between -40 to 70°C. Removing the fan and other moving components such as HDD storage onboard the PC also makes the system more resistant to shock and vibration.
“Hit by component shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic the supply of our current embedded controller was pushed out further than 30 weeks. Finding a embedded PC with sufficient onboard expansion and capabilities to host multiple SIM cards was proving difficult but Things Embedded delivered not just the right solution but we had a test system on our door in under one week.
Why Require 4 Modems? The Benefits of Connection Bonding
Our customers pioneered connection bonding technology which allows merging for four 4G connections, using 4 SIM cards, into one superfast secure stream resulting in a very fast, stable and secure 4G internet connection. Given that signal quality of every connection constantly fluctuates they found that merging 4 connections allows to achieve the most reliable connection, even in busy ports with overloaded networks. Their product allows the extending of cellular coverage offshore up to 60 miles, covering 95% of all cruising ranges while guests are onboard.
One simple advantage of multiple connections is more bandwidth that in return allows more internet load. In the perfect 4G coverage areas this would be the main benefit for a superyacht that usually has more traffic than any single mobile phone user.
Enhanced Provisioning in Busy Ports
Given that signal quality of every connection (SIM card) constantly fluctuates we found that merging 4 connections allows to achieve the most reliable connection, even in busy ports with overloaded networks.
Localized IP Addresses
An additional benefit of connection bonding is that it provides a static dedicated IP address required to stream country-specific content such as Netflix.
Leagues Above Load Balancing
Connection Bonding is not the same as “load balancing”. Load balancing is a very common approach used by many commercial 4G routers that allow the use of multiple SIM cards. Load balancing simply allows the device to spread the load evenly between several connections. The limitation of that approach is that if you are streaming a movie or having a video chat you will still end up using a connection of one SIM card only, being at mercy of the fluctuating signal.
Looking to the Future with a Custom 5G Intelligent Router
Impressed by our capabilities to source hardware on a short notice, the topic of what’s next was approached, the answer was 5G.
“With the rollout of 5G beginning to emerge in the market for industrial computing we can bring some great advantages for users of our hardware. The higher bandwidth of 5G is ideal for our customer’s requirements in accommodating data-hungry users in parallel without affecting internet speed or connection quality.” Andrew Whitehouse, CEO at Things Embedded.
Discussing our services in more detail it was agreed to start looking at solutions we can offer with custom branding including custom livery and their logo, I/O labelling, serial numbers, and part codes for their product of the future.